Bhushan Deshpande | Words of Wisdom
ECOM: a disgrace
Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 10:09
I’m Bhushan. I’m a senior, majoring in quantitative economics, and for the next ten weeks I will be using this space to collect my thoughts on this university of ours. Don’t get me wrong: I love Tufts. But we sure do have a heck of a lot of flaws.
This column was actually supposed to be related to another current issue — part-time lecturers at Tufts voting to unionize. But after going to the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate, Judiciary (TCUJ) and the Committee on Student Life (CSL) candidates’ debates on Monday, there is another topic that I feel needs to be discussed:
The Elections Commission (ECOM) must be abolished.
ECOM is a five-member commission that orchestrates all campus-wide elections. Their bylaws also require them to organize a debate for all of the candidates prior to election day. They also get paid $500 a year (nearly equivalent to Writing Fellows’ semester stipend).
ECOM does not provide anywhere near the same amount of benefit to this community that Writing Fellows provide. My third grade talent show may have been better organized than this candidates’ forum.
Let us, for example, examine the questions that were asked during these fora. All of them were asked by ECOM’s Chair Joel Kruger, a senior. For the Senate debate, there was one. One question. Roughly paraphrasing, it was “what was your favorite movie and how will the themes in it make you a better senator?”
There were a lot of candidates, sure, and after you add the mandatory opening and closing statements, there isn’t all that much time to answer questions. So I will grant ECOM a pass there. Maybe the questions would be better in round two for the TCUJ/CSL debates for the candidates running for TCUJ and the CSL.
Nope. It would have taken forty-five seconds of prep time to come up with several better choices than the ones that were chosen. In fact, here’s one of the questions that had been submitted by a former Senate Community Representative but not asked — whether CSL candidates thought the CSL should be handling appeals of Tufts’ sexual misconduct policy. Other questions might relate to the CSL’s (former) jurisdiction over Greek life, the “justified departure” policy announced by the CSL last year in relation to religious groups or why this group administers the Wendell Phillips Scholarship.
ECOM chose not to ask any of these.
The commission instead chose to ask whether the candidates would let emotions or logic guide their decisions, a Judiciary-specific question on whether more clubs should be allowed on campus (why wouldn’t they anyway?), a question about Tufts Divest (completely unrelated to either the TCUJ or CSL’s scope), what they would do to protect religious freedom on campus, a question about whether the candidates preferred gorillas or guerillas and what the candidates’ favorite ice cream toppings were.
When Walker Bristol, a CSL candidate, called Joel Kruger on his nonsensical last question by instead talking about the need for diverse racial representation in Tufts’ student government, Joel Kruger threatened to eliminate Walker Bristol’s ability to make a closing statement before another member of ECOM quietly intervened.
The Office of Campus Life (OCL) should take over the elections process. ECOM has not demonstrated that they have done any significant amount of work for this election. There is no way that the Office of Campus Life is so overworked that we need to spend $2,500 a year to pay five students to run elections rather than just have the OCL handle the matter itself.
If this is what ECOM has become, it is time to abolish it.