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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

THORNTON: Write-ins without warrant and misogynoir without merit

The principle of running for the sole sake of addition, as opposed to good addition, needs to be evaluated.
image+of+campaign+signs
Rachael Perrotta
Image of campaign signs outside of Rand Dining Center. Photo taken on March 22, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Rachael Perrotta)

Let’s get real for a second. 

If a group of Black students had sloppily thrown together a last-minute, ill-prepared campaign with an underdeveloped platform that lacked originality, solely on the basis that we wanted a second option, against a ticket with an already extensive platform addressing diverse student needs, and not on the basis that we believed our platform to be better, we would be called lazy and unprofessional.  

Late Monday night, March 22, juniors Grant Bowlds and Lauren Harmon emerged as a write-in ticket for the ongoing Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) presidential elections, after the withdrawal of presidential candidate Jordan Gould. As opposed to actually believing that they had a better platform and campaign initiatives, they chose to run merely to give students a “choice of representation.” In reference to the Bruns/Prowell ticket, Grant Bowlds even voiced in the campaign GroupMe, “All the work Hannah and Kayla are doing is great, I just want to provide another option for students to have their voices heard.” 

Despite voicing approval of their work, giving Hannah Bruns and Kayla Prowell an “easy win” was out of the question. 

The unpreparedness of the Bowlds/Harmon platform showed through. It included points such as VandyRide expansion, previously included in Gould and Amisha Mittal’s platform, that were less thought out and limited. They allowed students to text them and voice their opinions and questions about their campaign, but ignored questions as to whether they “understood the major issues and shortcomings of their campaign,” simply stating that they have “lives outside of the campaign.” Newsflash, we all do.  

It’s notable that the grievances with the VSG election are largely not with Hannah and Kayla, but are with the fact that a deserving platform will have an “easy win.”

 “It’s not a race if no one else is running,” a supporter of the write-in Grant and Lauren ticket wrote in the campaign Groupme, with many supporters expressing similar sentiments, especially their discontent with a “shoo-in” candidate. 

However, I must ask, if you see nothing wrong with the Bruns/Prowell platform or their ideas, what is the obsession with making the campaign harder for them? Why is a “hard win” more valid, especially when the candidates in question already have the support of various organizations on campus committed to the goal of diversity and inclusion? 

Bowlds and Harmon have now halted their pursuit of receiving official write-in approval, after accumulating over 150 signatures, out of the 250 necessary. However, other last-minute write-in tickets like the Eric Lewis/Tingyu Zhang ticket continue to campaign in Groupme’s and on Instagram accounts.

Despite the Bowlds/Harmon campaign end, the principle of running for the sole sake of addition, as opposed to good addition, needs to be evaluated. 

Now let’s stop being real and take a moment to pretend. 

Pretend that Jordan never dropped out. Pretend that his fraternity’s alleged racism went ignored. Pretend that instead Hannah and Kayla dropped out amid the allegations of negative campaigning and “weaponizing their identities” as Black women. These are just a few examples of mistreatment the two have endured throughout their campaign, which has made this anything but an “easy race,” something it will undoubtedly be again called by some if they win. Pretend that the leading ticket was championed by someone who is white, a man and is Greek-affiliated. Would there be as much pushback against a “shoo-in” race? 

It would be ignorant to assume that the ongoing Abolish IFCPH Greek Life movement (AGL) has not influenced the election. The turnout at the March 17 VSG Senate meeting on the possible reallocation of Greek housing was huge. Most students in attendance voiced concerns against Greek Life and the space it takes up on campus. Coupled with the increasing support the movement has garnered, to act as though the fate of Greek Life was not a factor in the sudden Bowlds/Harmon campaign screams of being under a rock for the last two weeks. While AGL and Greek Life is not acknowledged on the Bruns/Prowell ticket, it’s very interesting that the Bowlds/Harmon ticket included its existence, with Bowlds being heavily involved in Vanderbilt’s Sigma chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity, previously serving as Vice President of the chapter in 2020. Both tickets had points regarding campus collaboration, transparency, environmentalism and campus safety, among others (with a stark divergence in specificity and originality), but the biggest notable difference was Greek Life’s presence on the Bowlds/Harmon platform.  

While they declined to comment on their involvement in Greek Life in a recent Hustler article, it is not far-fetched to wonder if their write-in campaign would’ve come into fruition had the “shoo-in” candidate been a part of Greek Life. 

The events of this VSG election, especially the vilification of Hannah and Kayla, are in line with the undermining often (over)qualified marginalized students face on this campus, especially already racially or ethnically marginalized women and femmes. I know I’m going to be accused of it: of weaponizing my identity. Of playing a misdefined version of “identity politics.” Of playing the “minority card.” But when you really step back, get real and imagine if the roles were reversed, would all of this still be happening? 

 

While I support the Bruns/Prowell ticket, I am not a campaign member and while I don’t consider anything I have written slanderous, my words should not be affiliated with nor reflect badly on Hannah Bruns and Kayla Prowell. 

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About the Contributors
Miquéla Thornton, Former Opinion Editor
Miquéla Thornton ('22) is from Chicago-ish, Illinois, and double-majored in creative writing and communication of science and technology, aspiring to be a science writer. She was heavily involved on campus at Vanderbilt New Dawn and The McGill Project. When she isn't writing for The Hustler, she enjoys writing fiction and poetry. Aside from writing, she spends her time painting, roller skating and visiting art galleries around Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].    
Rachael Perrotta, Senior Advisor
Rachael Perrotta ('24) is from Cranston, R.I., and is majoring in cognitive studies, communication of science and technology and political science in Peabody College. She was previously Editor-in-Chief and News Editor. If she's not pressing you for a comment, she's probably trying to convince you that she's over 5 feet tall, cheering on the Red Sox or wishing Nashville had a beach. She can be reached at [email protected].
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Comments (8)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
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A
Anonymous
2 years ago

Why not allow the processes of democracy to play out? Limiting candidates solely because YOU THINK the issues on which they have chosen to focus are not of particular importance to you, goes against the tenets inherent to the democratic process. Let the voters decide which issues are most relevant and which candidates he/she feels best represent their goals/desires for Vanderbilt’s campus. The issue is not whether a candidate is opposed nor whether a candidates qualifications are up to par in any one person’a sole opinion.

The issue is simple. It is a democratic election. There were two sets of candidates for consideration. One candidate was accused of attending a fraternity party where vestiges of historical “Old Soutb” culture were acknowledged by others in attendance- ultimately leading to a resignation of this candidate and his running mate. Let the majority decide if the actions leading up to the resignation of these candidates is warranted and/or if the remaining candidates effectually represent the issues of importance to voters.

Have you considered that issues of diversity and inclusion are not at the forefront of all students’ agendas? Just as you have the right to advocate for diversity and inclusion initiatives, so do others who might consider campus safety, student transportation or a multitude of other concerns as more pressing issues. Is it competition you fear? If the write-in candidates are as non-qualified as you purport, then they will not be elected. If they are elected, then perhaps you must consider the possibility that the Vanderbilt student body has spoken!! If this is not to yours or anyone else’s liking, then you can take one of three paths- work harder to prioritize your anti-Greek sentiment for future elections; accept that while you are offended and recognize no value in Greek fraternal organizations, there are many who feel otherwise; or if you are still so resolute in your intolerance based upon your determination that these organizations offer no value, then transfer to a school that offers no Greek life. The choice is yours ….just as the same choice should be afforded all voters!! I sat “Let the people speak”!!!

T
Tony Stark
2 years ago

I agree, we won’t really have any good options until VSG institutes the one-party system

A
A disgruntled alum
2 years ago

Welcome to the world of politics – not everything is going to work your way. It’s a shame that a Vanderbilt student would criticize their peers for stepping up to the plate – in the context of student government, the ideas this opinion preaches is downright undemocratic. If Hannah and Kayla are the right people for the job, they shouldn’t have any worry beating out the “lazy and unprofessional” opposition.

A
Anon
2 years ago

I agree with the other commenters that I don’t think the counterfactuals help your argument at all. It doesn’t seem likely that someone in Greek life could win a VSG election in 2021 anyway, just with how many students have strong (and warranted!!!) biases against Greek members. In the alternate reality where Hannah and Kayla are forced to drop out, and Jordan and Amisha were then unopposed, of course there would be a strong push by write-in tickets vying to present an alternative. I mean, doesn’t the existence of your article (and the rest of the overwhelmingly anti-Jordan discourse around the election) prove that sufficient sentiment exists for that to happen? I doubt Jordan and Amisha would’ve garnered 77% support in that alternate universe.

M
Minnie Mangafas
2 years ago

This is such an insightful and well-written article, Miquela. Contrary to “frustrated senior’s” concern that counterfactuals are not worthwhile to examine, I disagree. This isn’t a biology experiment or a criminal proceeding; to make observations about people, imagining divergent circumstances is one of the most effective things you can do to reflect on your own and others’ behavior. Many of the circumstances that transpired made me very upset as an alumna, but you did your peers a great service by illustrating the circumstances and individuals’ role in each of them so well. Thanks for this article — it was a good and useful read for me, so I imagine it’s even better for the folks on campus.

F
Frustrated Senior
2 years ago

While I agree with many points made in this article, I’m not sure that counter-factuals are worthwhile points to examine.

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anonymous
2 years ago

or maybe people just want to not get rid of things like greek life which are super positive experiences for lots of people?

J
joe
2 years ago
Reply to  anonymous

lmaoooo you mean for people that are so wrapped up in their own privilege that they are blind to the systematic injustices that greek life can, has, and will continue to inflict?