Letter to the Editor: A condemnation of apathy

In light of the recent news surrounding Franciscan University’s Student Government elections, popularly coined as “Recall 2015,” The Troubadour received a letter from one student expressing her irritation and dismay.

Submitted by Chelsea Abrea

People say: “What goes on in Student Government is none of my business.”
I ask: “Do you know that your tuition goes to our Student Government, comprised of these people that we elect?”

People say: “Student Government doesn’t do anything anyway, so this fight for a fair election is useless.”
I ask: “Why do we expect and accept that they do nothing for us? Why don’t we push for it to mean something? Don’t you know that they exist so that our voices towards the higher authority in this school may be heard?”

People say: “Who the heck cares?”
I say: “You shall not kill what is vital. You shall not kill the peoples’ seeking of truth.”

I believe that this attitude of apathy, this whole attitude of “deal with it” and “it doesn’t matter” and “cool story bro,” kills the soul. Apathy is laziness: It means there is no point to seeking information that might tell a different story, it means we do not think about how we can overcome what is unjust. It assumes that the structures of governance and power will always be evil. It assumes that we are powerless to act against immorality. It assumes that we have lost and that we will always lose.

And this, my brothers and sisters, is what offends me the most. I believe that apathy is not mere pessimism; it is, in some form, despair. It is an acceptance of our hopeless state, and acceptance of the idea that our situation is beyond help. Despair is real not only on a personal level, but on a social level, as well.

I believe that, if we are Christians, we cannot be apathetic. If we believe what Jesus Christ has taught us, if we believe that a big part of being Christian is striving for virtue, then it is our responsibility to show where vice is. If we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, Who guides us to see the truth, then we shall see that the situation is in our hands to change. And if we love God, we shall keep His commandments.

What happened at our school can be summed up in a few points.
1. Two candidates, Pultorak and Dantona, were disqualified from our Student Government elections.
2. Their disqualification was ensured by the writing of two formal complaints: by Kirby, the president this past school year, and by an anonymous person (but, as made very clear by the language of the complaint, it is Stroka, who was recently pronounced president of the upcoming school year). The accusers did not hold themselves to the same standard which they did the accused. The complaints did not even pass through the proper channels in Student Government.
3. Thus, the votes for the disqualified candidates were not represented until after the election on main campus, and said candidates were not even on the Austrian ballot.
4. Furthermore, the statement released by Chief Justice Gaudet is inconsistent with the statement released by Pultorak.

This is what happened and I will not make the conclusions for you. We should have been taught by now, especially as Christians at Franciscan University, that the ends do not justify the means, and we cannot allow our brothers’ immoral and unjust conduct to be excused. I don’t know what made Kirby and Stroka think that rigging the election was excusable. Their actions did not only violate a democratic election and accurate student representation; their actions also made their victory illegitimate.

(A small digression: The laziness of many people about gathering the stories of many sources about this situation is very much related to the laziness of people across America who do not bother themselves with being aware or protesting against poverty wages, environmental issues, the reinforcement of racism and sexism in many little ways, and so on and so on. And we wonder why our nation is failing.)

Standing up for what is right in the place where we are: this is what being a light to the world means, for light cannot but spread. It means taking care of our own square yard, because our square yard touches other peoples’ square yards. We are more connected and more responsible than we think. If corruption flies in Franciscan University, and we students allow it to, then corruption will fly wherever we go once we get off the hill. We are Christian, and with the grace of Christ and guidance of the Holy Spirit we can do better. We can be good to each other.

Recall 2015 has been a peaceful, non-violent urge for a fair election. It has been a call for honesty, justice, ethical conduct, transparency and democracy. My friends for the moment have done their best to refrain from ad hominem attacks and instead to make arguments based on the facts and multiple testimonies. But as for the people who have resorted to spitting and slandering Kirby or whoever else: I want to call you out for not seeing your brethren as brethren. That is not what Recall 2015 is truly about.

Now, if we have the recall election we fought for (which we should, as 10 percent of our student population have asked for), and if Stroka wins, then so be it. So be it. At least it will have been a fair, legitimate election; at least it will have been what the people wanted.

Finally, to the people who have been saying that Student Government’s power is not real, and that school is not a part of the real world… I ask: Where, just where, are you going to demarcate the line between the “practice world” and the “real world”? Aren’t you real, right now? Aren’t you alive?

3 Comments

  1. I’m remaining anonymous so as not to be publicly dragged into this debate, but I am frustrated by all of these biased remarks, so I’d like to finally have my say on what I have watched unfold on both sides.

    I am connected to student government through friends, and happen to know that candidates Pultorak and Dantona, or at least their campaign staff, were committing gross campaign violations. This I saw personally. Were other candidates running perfect campaigns? Papering of fliers on not just corkboards but bathrooms, doors, and classrooms, a confetti bomb of business cards all over the damn place–I felt like Pultorak and Dantona were trying to steamroller my attention.

    Furthermore, I saw more than one situation unfold in the computer lab, where it is against school policy to print large amounts if you’re not printing for class. On one occasion, I waited 20 minutes while hundreds of fliers for the Pultorak Dantona campaign to come out of the printer. On another, I watched another student have a nervous break down while trying to print just before class while dozens of Recall 2015 fliers came out of the printer, making her late. This rule violation might not be in the election code, but it is still in extremely bad taste. These printers exist for our academic use only. These rules exist for courtesy. I’m not sure I’d want these people representing me next year.

    (I was also annoyed at Pultorak and Dantona’s campaign promises, to “push” for double meal swipes and more parking. This language, in my personal opinion, was intentionally vague, because to my knowledge student government has no power in these areas, they could have started a petition, but that is as much as any other student could have done. I believe it was misleading of candidates Pultorak and Dantona to imply to the students that they could achieve these campaign promises. But this has little to nothing to do with their disqualification.)

    Furthermore, and what I believe is most relevant to the disqualification, is the list of false endorsements candidates Pultorak and Dantona posted on the Facebook page, and as fliers around campus. I personally know three of the endorsers, and when I asked why they endorsed candidates Pultorak and Dantona, two told me that they had not, in fact, given a public endorsement, and I heard that the third person denied the endorsement as well. Candidates Pultorak and Dantona seemed to either not be able to tell the difference between public endorsement and friendly support, or, in their clumsy rush to obtain office, didn’t care about the difference.

    According to this article, “Recall 2015 has been a peaceful, non-violent urge for a fair election.” Recall 2015’s WordPress website compared this election to the Arab Spring, and noted the “significant violence and bloodshed” involved in that incident, but concluded: “This is the price of freedom in a fallen world.” A Recall 2015 supporter spit at Student Government President Brian Kirby. I myself witnessed clusters of students outside the chapel, waving a flag and screaming about the situation, trying to get signatures on a petition.

    So, do you want to know why people feel inclined to say things like, #DealWithIt2015? Not because of apathy, but because some people have had an immature overreaction to this disqualification. Instead of conducting a sensible investigation, Pultorak and Dantona’s supporters lunged for their social media outlets, their flags, and their spittle, without trying to inform themselves and the public. I saw a post from Recall 2015 about collecting almost 300 signatures–how many of those students, walking to mass or to class, saw you waving your flag, and had any idea what was going on? If you seem passionate, if you say that you’ll make a difference, they’d write their names down if you said you were trying to bring back unicorns because Chief Justice Gaudet had killed them all.

    So from anonymous author to anonymous author, no, I am not apathetic. I simply decided to ask around and find out exactly what happened, and treat this situation appropriately. I don’t think you’re championing for truth or justice or fairness. I think Recall 2015 is in over their heads, and trying to justify themselves. So how about a new hashtag: #shutupandgrowupandstudyforfinalslikeyoushouldbedoing2015.

  2. Regardless of if Pultorak-Dantona were disqualified or not (but they clearly broke election code), the frontrunner Stroka, had a majority vote of 56%, a “landslide” victory (considering there were 4 other candidates), and the popular majority. What makes you think you can report that a victory as such as being illegitimate and “rigged”? Did they not secure more votes than all the other candidates combined? They clearly put together a better and more thorough campaign than any other candidate. In addition, accusing President Kirby and Candidate Stroka of rigging the election is asinine; any student body member can file a complaint against a candidate, thus making those complaints licit and valid, and your reporting unmerited.

  3. I agree in regards to apathy and student involvement. For this election, I know all the candidate. They are good people, but they just got a little too excited. That’s in the past, and I hope that now we can continue to show interest by supporting Ben and Christian.

Leave a Reply to Anonymous Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *