This past Monday, Lawrence University Community Council’s (LUCC) General Council approved the executive election results, effectively making juniors Max Loebl and Jo-Hanna Rifai president- and vice president-elect respectively. At the conclusion of a lengthy application, campaign and election process, it is appropriate to reflect on what has been brought to the table.
When campaigning, LUCC candidates have a tendency to present vague ideals and exaggerated promises instead of directed policy proposals grounded in the reality of their position’s capabilities. Often, candidates promise changes that do not even fall under the jurisdiction of the student government. Such platforms are unfortunately intrinsic to election campaigns and it would be unrealistic to expect students running for our government to be any different.
However, for the LUCC election to be a meaningful process through which the best leadership is selected, candidates must remain aware of LUCC’s capacity and jurisdiction. As they reach out to groups and make promises, candidates must also propose effective strategies to achieve their outlined goals. If those standards are not maintained, students will continue to vote based on changes that candidates cannot realistically make.
This year, a key component of Loebl’s platform was safety. This component was supported by proposed efforts to work in conjunction with diversity-based and socially-minded organizations on campus. That is a positive, if not broad, goal for campus. In addition, he stated a desire to explore the possibility of a mandatory expulsion clause within the sexual misconduct policy.
Regardless of whether or not student government should be involved, the sexual misconduct policy does not fall under LUCC’s jurisdiction; it is instead a university policy. Along with that, the presidential position is not a decision-making role. Any presidential promise to support or pass legislation is a fruitless claim. The concerns we raise here are not regarding the specific policy, but rather, the campaign promise to explore such legislation without a detailed plan.
The complicated nature of the sexual misconduct policy, specifically, lends itself to in-depth scrutiny. First, his proposal is vague, excluding the terms and specifications of which types of violations would lead to mandatory expulsion. Further, we have yet to hear any plan to accomplish such a bold goal. There have been no proposed methods that would bring all relevant stakeholders to a consensus on such a complicated and controversial issue.
To be clear, the Editorial Board’s issues with empty campaign promises and proposals are not unique to Loebl. We would likely be presenting a similar critique if other candidates had been elected. Every year, candidates run on the premise of general changes that best relate to student interests at the time. Last year, both presidential candidates prioritized diminishing inefficiency in LUCC by creating more committee oversight while decreasing the number of redundant student organizations. This was hardly a part of any progress made over the past year; Lawrentians have long forgotten about those empty promises.
Collectively, Loebl and Rifai have a lot of experience and ideas to bring to the table. Rifai wishes to maintain better transparency between LUCC and the student body, notes that our current system for student parking is not working, and states that our housing crisis must be solved. Loebl has repeatedly emphasized his desire to make campus a safer and more diverse community. These are valuable goals, and we would love to see them accomplished.
As the year continues, we look forward to the changes that our new LUCC president and vice president bring to the community. While we do not know their plans for making these changes happen, the issues that they have brought up seem to represent that interests and concerns of our current student body. More than anything, we hope to see the incoming leadership prove our cynicism wrong and fulfill the promises made during the campaign.