Friday, June 14, 2024

Right to run

The Weekly Sillimanian | April 26, 2024

Healthy competition in any election is necessary, as it forces leaders to stay on their toes and voters to think critically. The circumstances of this year’s election, however, put that in jeopardy. This is why the Weekly Sillimanian is joining the Committee on Elections in urging more students to run as independent candidates.

For the longest time, the Silliman University Student Government (SUSG) Elections have been dominated by two political parties: the Concerted Action for the Upliftment of Students’ Endeavors (CAUSE) Party and Student Union for Reforms (SURE) Party. Because of this, independent candidates have been few and far between — with no independent candidates being fielded in the last five years — as most prospective student leaders are often absorbed into either political party.

This lack of independent candidates has long been evident, but it has not caused major public concern amid the heated CAUSE–SURE divide that has characterized every election season. That was consistently the case — until now.

With SURE Party not registering for this year’s elections, the void they left behind has people scratching their heads about what that means moving forward. Is this going to change the student political landscape in the university as a whole? If CAUSE Party’s roster of candidates is good, is there anything to worry about? What does this imply about the student body’s overall attitude toward being in elective positions at the SUSG?

While it may be daunting to file for candidacy without the support of an established party, students forget that being in a political party is not the only way to validate student leadership potential. Initiative is also important, along with a genuine heart for student welfare and the guts to make it happen. Running in the elections as an independent candidate is difficult but it is a chance to prove one’s leadership skills beyond the assured platform of a political party — a challenge to prove leadership ability on merit alone.

Coming to this point may be a rather sad reality, but the silver lining in this situation is that this election season is an opportunity for the student body to see candidacy in a different light. While political parties are necessary and important parts of any democracy, they should not be treated as the only gateway to student leadership.

We always emphasize the students’ right to vote, but we often forget to highlight students’ right to run for office even if no party urges them to. With the filing of certificates of candidacy closing on April 28, we hope more students will heed the call of leadership. The race is open to everyone, after all — and the results become all the more worthwhile if more runners are pushing each other to the limits of their capabilities.

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