The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Letter to the Editor: Students are responsible for inclusivity in Student Association

Courtesy Photo | Brannan Tisdale
SA candidate Brannan Tisdale.

Dear Editor,

In light of the Spring 2024 Student Association Elections and the public backlash that followed, I looked back and read the 2021 letter to a former Reflector editor authored by Brady Kruse, a highly decorated and respected member of our student body during his time at Mississippi State.

In that letter, he voiced what every student who is frustrated with the election decries year-in and year-out: The Student Association Executive Council has had a long history of “Greek” dominance. That continues with the February 13thnaming of four individuals who are members of Panhellenic or IFC organizations to the four most influential positions of the most influential organization at MSU.

Before I go any further, I must note that Kruse’s quote, “You have to either know someone or be Greek to join the Student Association cult,” holds little weight today. SA chooses over 100 members each year across each of its three branches who go through an application-and-interview process no different than any of MSU’s other large student organizations.

Many of these are not Greek, and quite a few have no prior connection to SA. These often are the biggest unsung heroes of the Student Association.

Without the recognition of a Tuesday night announcement, they put their heart and soul into the work the organization makes towards building a better community at MSU. But that’s what they are: unsung heroes.

They don’t get the recognition like elected officials get, nor the fancy title, the desk, the picture on the website, the graphics on the social media, none of it. The elections lead to all these things, which is why they are a beast like no other.

It is a week and a half of torture for any candidate, regardless of affiliation: the campaign graphics, the GroupMes and the Drill Field tabling stretches a measly college student to their very limits.

These candidates realize every vote matters, one hundredth of a percent can make the difference between a year in, or a year out.

Kruse asserts that members of Greek institutions have the upper hand in a race of such tight margins, noting access to “a well-financed, exclusive organization behind you to guarantee a few hundred votes.”

This is the silver bullet of election critics. They argue the voice of the Greek institutions drowns out the non-Greek voice and results in candidates across the board that fail to represent the interest of the greater student body.

Is this valid? I can not say for sure; the voter demographics are not available, and I will not speculate on the matter. Those who want to speculate can note the litany of Greek candidates every year, both Exec and Senate, and their winning percentage compared to non-Greek candidates.

The radicals among the critics can hypothesize about “The Machine” and the work it does to secure unilateral Greek representation on the most influential group on campus.

If we want to truly identify a problem, only about 3,000 students, give or take a couple hundred, vote each year in the Spring Elections, which is only 13% of our entire student body.

Our percentage turnout for voting is lower than almost any peer institution or other institution our size. Why would a hypothetical “Machine” need to do any work? There is no one for it to work against!

This letter is not a call for election reform, this is a call for election participation. With the lack of investment from the student body in SA on the one day it matters most, the election will never have the outcome election critics want to see.

There is a massive discrepancy between the backlash the Student Association faces from the election results and the student body’s engagement with the entire election process.

Are students concerned with the makeup of the Student Association’s membership? Each one had a chance to voice that on Election Day, and each one will continue to have that voice every Election Day until they leave.

That will never change, no matter who runs and who wins.

To conclude, it would be in poor and classless taste to argue that the “right” candidate or the “most skilled” candidate loses every time, and that the Student Association suffers because of it.

SA has never failed to live up to its duties in the three years I have been here. Students before us saw the same thing, and students after us will see the same thing.

At the end of the day, each SA member is just a student, who feels a need to serve campus and take responsibility for building a better Mississippi State. We can argue about who takes the lead on doing all these things, but above all, the SA will represent the student body to the best of its ability.

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  • D

    David YMar 1, 2024 at 12:51 pm

    As a former elections commissioner, I can tell you right now that this runs deeper than you will ever know.

  • D

    David YMar 1, 2024 at 12:25 pm

    As a former elections commissioner, I can tell you right now that this runs deeper than you will ever know.