The elections for Miami University’s Associated Student Government (ASG) Student Body President and Vice President have certainly become visible on campus. Between the numerous banners, candidate debates and coverage in The Miami Student, it did not take long to get my attention. Unfortunately, I had no idea which candidates to support. But when The Student announced that one of the tickets had been selected for an endorsement, I eagerly grabbed a copy to see what I could learn, so that I could cast my vote in a responsible and informed way.
However, after reading The Student’s endorsement of Nicholas Huber and Matthew Frazier for president and vice president of the student body, I was left more concerned than informed.
The first paragraph of the endorsement was useful, as it highlighted some of the past experiences and qualifications Huber and Frazier would bring to the offices they seek. But as I continued reading, the endorsement article turned to the issue of diversity at Miami and the concerns of the Student’s editorial board regarding, among other things, the lack of diversity among the candidate pool and Huber and Frazier both being “white-men in the Greek system.” My curiosity then turned to sheer confusion. I couldn’t help but think, these are the issues the editorial board thought to be important?
Miami is currently facing the same challenges that countless other entities are facing nationwide. We face a festering budget crisis that has the potential to affect our class sizes, our curriculum, our campus services and many other crucial aspects of daily life as a RedHawk. While there is certainly a time and place for the ongoing debate regarding diversity at Miami, this is not it.
TheStudent missed a fantastic opportunity with their endorsement to bring to light the real issues that continue to plague our campus. The endorsement article stated the editorial board was “impressed by the experience of Huber and Frazier in representing the minority position and fighting for the students.” This is ridiculous. Those of minority status always ought to be protected, but the editorial board is doing the university and the student body a great disservice in distracting us from issues that affect each and every one of us, not just minority students. The issue of diversity on campus is an important one, but Miami has failed in this regard by promoting the mentality of “you’re different, you get special treatment.” Diversity is great, but it’s something that just has to happen, and it cannot be forced.The Student’s endorsement literally made it seem as if Huber and Frazier would be less effective as candidates simply because of a lack of diversity on their ticket. If we want to be a campus that judges someone “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” then the Student should have realized that any candidate, no matter who they are, should not be looked down upon because they are a member of a minority group, or in this case, the majority.
We need our student leaders to connect with all of us and talk to us about the issues we all face collectively. Current Student Body President Heath Ingram has done a remarkable job in bringing the debate about Miami’s future directly to those who will be impacted most: the students. Ingram repeatedly visited different sites around campus, including my own dormitory, to explain to concerned students the fiscal situation we find ourselves in. That’s the kind of leadership Miami needs. I have no reason to believe that The Student’s endorsed candidates, Mr. Huber and Mr. Frazier, would act any less dutifully should they be elected, but the Student chose to focus on the issues of minority representation and even went so far as to make it seem that being white-males was something that Mr. Huber and Mr. Frazier had to make excuses for or even justify. I find it hard to believe that a future minority candidate would be similarly-questioned on how they planned to also represent the Caucasian majority on campus, but why should they be? We are all Miami students, regardless of demographic status, and The Student and the university have done nothing but try to reinforce the notion that there is a majority and a minority, not a community with common interests. The solution would be to never make it such an issue in the first place. By injecting this unnecessary third-rail into the student election, The Student’s endorsement article has made it seem that Mr. Huber and Mr. Frazier are only viable candidates because they’ve conformed to the institution’s policies that continue to prioritize and focus on minority issues.
If Miami truly wants to be seen as a single community, we need to all come together to enact projects and policies that benefit all students. No matter who gets elected, now or in the future, every candidate must be evaluated on their ideas, not their demographic status.