When you look at the ballot for the primary elections this month, it is very unlikely you’ve personally had class with any of the nominees. Voting in elections where all the candidates are just names on paper doesn’t immediately incite emotion and forces voters to focus on the whatever information they have about the campaign.
In Student Government elections, the opposite is true. Odds are high that students have personal links to candidates. But social connections can lead to social pressures — students with connections to campaigns need to remain impartial even when their friendships could make them biased.
Knowing anyone involved in an SG campaign can make you feel obligated to also support that campaign, regardless of what you know about them or how you truly feel. Friendships are important, but so is the state of our school.
From a lack of diversity to a reexamination of Title IX, the UT community is facing serious issues and who we elect to lead us will have a large impact on how those challenges are, or are not, met. When you’re friends with someone there can be a natural desire to support them unconditionally. But this is an important decision that should be made based on the good of the university rather than personal connections.
When you vote, choose a candidate based on their platform, experience and overall character. Their platforms and experience will be available on their respective websites or in reports by the Daily Texan. If you personally know someone running for office, you are probably already aware of their character. However, try to think objectively about their qualities, not just as a good friend to you, but as a potential representative of the University.
Afterward, if you are concerned about how your candidate preference might affect a friendship, remember: Voting is confidential for a reason. No matter who you decide to vote for, friend or otherwise, no one is entitled to know who you chose. Remind a friend who tries to push you for information on your voting record that if they really respected SG, they would also respect the confidential voting process. Do not lie about who you voted for, as this may lead to only more problems or lies in the future.
Instead, just remain firm in your right to keep your choices private.
Campaigners are not at fault for trying to persuade people to vote for them — elected officials at all levels do this too in the real world. However, the students should think critically about the student campaigns and evaluate the candidates seriously. Don’t let flashy signs in the West Mall, annoying Facebook notifications, or even a conversation with a friend cloud your judgment. Vote for the University, not anyone else.
Freeman is an international relations and global studies junior from Cedar Park. Follow her on Twitter @rachel_frmn.