Alex Ballard has been part of student government for the long haul. The junior has held a variety of positions since his freshman year, including senatorial seats, chairing committees and speaker of senate. He even ran alongside now-President Mitchell Rosenberg as a vice presidential candidate last year, though he lost by about 10 points.
It’s this dedication and track record that has earned Ballard The Panther’s endorsement for student government president. The Panther also endorses junior Abby Tan, the sole vice presidential candidate.
Although Tan ran on the same unofficial ticket as Ballard’s opponent, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences senator Saba Amid, students can vote for presidential and vice presidential candidates separately. Amid is a strong candidate with involvement in initiatives like the successful push to bring free menstrual products to campus, but as a sophomore, she still has time to learn the ins and outs of student government.
Sounding good on paper is easy, but Ballard has a history of getting results and making student input a priority.
He’s created a Commuter Student Advisory Committee, has held hours of “listening sessions” to talk to students and is pushing for a student government resolution in student government that aims to improve guidelines around reporting sexual misconduct at Chapman.
“It’s one thing to put out a platform and have these ideas and goals, but it’s another thing to follow through on those things and have a plan of action to do it,” Ballard said at the student government debate March 5. “And personally, I know I’ve done that.”
While vice presidential candidate Tan is a strong choice, it’s disappointing that at a time where it’s crucial for young people to be involved politically – even if it’s just on a student body level – there are no other candidates for vice president. Even at a university Chapman’s size, we’re surprised that only one student stepped forward to run.
Chapman’s voter turnout has ranged from 15 to 26 percent over the past three years, and we believe there’s a right and a wrong way to bolster civic engagement. But we don’t agree with how student government is encouraging voter participation in this election: holding a raffle for students to win a $20 Starbucks gift card, a $60 Amazon gift card or two tickets to pop-alternative singer Billie Eilish’s concert. In exchange for entering the raffle, students must cast their vote and encourage their friends to vote by tagging them in an Instagram post. As of March 12, the post has 258 likes and 346 comments.
Yes, we’re talking about voting in a student government election at a small private school in California, not the U.S. presidential election. But shouldn’t we be teaching future constituents to cast their votes because they believe their voices should be heard – not because of a promised potential reward?
We’re endorsing Ballard because we believe he’s the right choice for student government president and, because she’s the sole candidate, we want Tan to be successful as vice president next year. But we’re endorsing these candidates in hopes that you’ll vote, no matter the candidate, because you’re interested in the future of Chapman, not a concert ticket.