The OUSC election debacle: Everyone loses

The current Oakland University Student Congress election became what we all loathed in November 2020, an ugly match of “who can tear down the other” the most.

The Oakland Post covered a protest March 11,  which turned into a celebration, regarding student workers and the newly formed Student Workers Coalition. In the article, our managing editor referred to presidential candidate Jordan Tolbert using a “microphone” to speak about her campaign. 

Since everyone cared so much about the wording, microphone was a simple mistake. The word was intended to be “megaphone.” 

Mistakes happen, that’s the reality of printing. We take responsibility for that, but questioning someone’s journalistic integrity over one misprint is inappropriate, especially because just like classrooms, The Oakland Post newsroom is a learning environment.

In addition, the Post’s credibility was under question, and no one reached out to myself or managing editor Emily Morris, who wrote the story. Instead, they attempted to figure out how valid the work was, without contacting anyone involved with the work. 

Using the megaphone was a breach of an OUSC campaigning rule, one that personally, I think is ludicrous, but that isn’t the issue. 

During a grievance trial, which was initiated by the other set of candidates, Tolbert denied using the megaphone, and claimed that using the Post as a source wasn’t right, as articles “do not tell the whole story,” referring to our work as “not good pieces of evidence.”

The fact is, she used the megaphone to talk about her campaign, I was there. Not only did she talk about the campaign, she did for multiple minutes, explaining her platforms and goals. 

However, she should never have been facing punishment for doing that in the first place. It’s a shame to see the other candidates, Adeline Perhogan and Annabella Jankowski, use any rule they can find in an attempt to win a student congress election by penalizing their opponents.

What Oakland University needs from their student congress president and vice president is someone who puts students first. This entire election process has shown us that neither of these set of candidates are willing to do that. In a time of strife, both decided to act in self-preservation, not what was best for the university.

One set used any rule they can find, including trying to get their opponent on trademark law, in an attempt to win. The other broke a rule unknowingly, but then proceeded to dance around it during a trial and blame the student newspaper. 

I understand these grievances filed were related to broken rules, but trademark law and using a megaphone should not be the main issues for OUSC candidates to focus on. There are far more pressing issues that deserve time and attention, not these nit-picky rules which seemingly are only being brought up in an attempt to win an election. 

In retaliation to Perhogan and Jankowski, Tolbert and Brennan filed their own grievance on Jankowski and Perhogan based on an Instagram account harassing them. As if the process didn’t seem like a played-out rap beef already, we have people harassing OUSC candidates on Instagram with anonymous accounts.

The identity of the anonymous harasser was never found, and Perhogan and Jankowski were found not guilty of that action. Still, the fact it happened at all seems very childish. 

Oakland students must demand better from these elected leaders. Voter turnout was low this year. According to Ethan Bradley, only 457 of OU’s 18,552 students voted for OUSC president and vice president. These elected leaders don’t just serve the 2.4% that voted for them, they serve each and every student that is enrolled at OU. So far, they’ve failed.

The Post was simply reporting the events of the celebration on March 11, and will continue to always report the facts. We are not immune to mistakes, but we are always “facts first.” The fact is, both candidates have made mistakes, but the students are the ones really getting hurt. 

For the betterment of Oakland University, I hope these candidates will learn from this ugly process. Perhogan and Jankowski won the election, and the ironic part is they would have won without attempting to penalize their opponent. Tolbert and Smith lost a measly four votes after the grievance trials, but Perhogan and Jankowski won by 24 votes pre-penalty, proving the whole grievance process was unnecessary. 

I know both sets of candidates have it in them to be great for this campus. Tolbert and Brennan have already achieved much with the Student Worker’s Coalition, and Jankowski and Perhogan have been involved on-campus for years now, positively impacting campus life.

They are all quality, good people, who have seemingly let this process get the better of them. I hope these four can focus on what’s important and make good on their election promises and initiatives moving forward. Hopefully, much like “megaphone” vs. “microphone,” this can be a learning experience for us all.