An Allegorical Analysis of the SGA Presidential Candidates

Collegiate government elections are deeply significant to the contenders but often appear a parody of the electoral process to everyone else. Traditionally at UVM, voter turnout for the SGA president election has been low and issues are ignored in favor of the more popularity contest cum propaganda fest reminiscent of high-school politics. This year, however, our over-achieving candidates have solid platforms, substantial records of campus action, and loud-mouthed friends; the only excuse for not knowing the facts is ignorance.

The SGA is an important part of student life and requires strong leadership, thus participation in the presidential election is vital to ensuring that your voice as a student is properly represented. The political platforms of candidates run the gamut of more funding for clubs, unlocking dorm entries, increasing staff pay and increasing availability of sports tickets for students. While issues are important, it’s easy to get caught up in the reputations and personalities of those running. To simplify, we can use the United States 2004 presidential election as an apt allegorical model.

Ben Wildestein is the obvious George Bush candidate. Like Dubbya, his friends adore him and his detractors detest him. He is reported to regularly throw “outrageously fun” parties and can be found frequenting dirty basements across campus almost every night of the week. He is deeply involved with the Finance Committee and has been integral to getting more money to clubs, but the rest of his platform is murky; the upcoming debates will hopefully clarify what issues are important to him. With a swagger to rival George 42’s and startlingly high self confidence to boot, you can be sure he’ll take care of that top percentage of students actively involved in SGA sponsored clubs; unless, of course, they involve diversity. In the Finance Committee, Wildstein recently voted to eliminate a fund designed to give thousands of dollars to clubs sponsoring multiculturalism, while presidential candidate Sarah Porier voted to keep the fund.

Porier is our John Kerry candidate. She has logged in the most hours of service to this school out of all the candidates, has the most detailed plans and highest future aspirations. Issues important to her include town/campus relations, greater availability of athletic tickets for She knows the ins-and-outs of the SGA and has the connections to get things done. That being said, she’s an obvious flip-flopper and tends to place appealing to her audience higher than having strong convictions; if highly controversial issues come up, there is a definite possibility of her being terminally impartial. Also like John Kerry, Porier may be out of touch with the average citizen, or in this case- student. Her super-involvement in her school as a sorority sister and former varsity athlete, along with her SGA activities, place her in a category of achievement not matched by most students.

Strong convictions can be found with our Ralph Nader candidate, Bent Cardon. He’s the kind of student who regularly instigates classroom arguments and refuses to back down even if the entire class disagrees, then goes on to battle it out some more as an active member of the debate team. As the only candidate not currently a member of the SGA, his credentials are shown with his enthusiastic membership of this award-winning club. Like Nader, his platform is noble, but also similar to Nader, few seem to know he is in the running and even less know what his issues are. In these early stages of campaigning, he has maintained a cheerful outlook and has not participated in the nearly-hostile debates of the other two, endearing him to those who don’t normally participate in collegiate politics.

The greatest Nader comparison to be made with Cardon is his highly idealistic standpoint on the possibilities of the SGA; this proves to be his greatest asset and simultaneously greatest risk as a candidate. While some of his stances sound great for students and staff alike, such as increased parking, they may be highly impractical (a flashback to Nader’s proposed environmental policies). This election brings together three very different candidates, with Cardon as our even-tempered underdog, Wildstein as the hard-working party-boy, and Porier as the highly structured over-achiever; personality is just as much an issue as the issues themselves