Have you ever been in a group interview? Have you ever played in a competition-oriented sport? Have you ever put your name up for an elected position before? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you know what it is like to experience the delicate reality of inequality in competition. You will know that somebody has to lose. Someone is going to be disappointed. Somebody will not get the job, win the game or get the majority of the votes in an election. So how do we deal with that disappointment, whether we are on the happy or sad end of it?
The answer is simple: good sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is the extension of courtesy and politeness to your competitor in order to either congratulate a victor, or to ease the pain of the less fortunate. You shake a hand. You tell your competitor what a good job they did. You say “keep your chin up, better luck next time.”
Let me tell you what you do not do. Let me tell you what is never warranted. I probably do not need to explain why it is common sense for a victor not to brag. I do not need to explain why it is not cool to cheapen your opponents’ successes by blaming outside influences for their success. It is never warranted to hurt the feelings of competitors who gave all of themselves in the spirit of a fair contest. It is a basic idea, and it is not difficult to employ good sportsmanship.
So picture this: you stand in a room full of competitors eagerly awaiting the results of their competition. Each and every one of these people you know to be kind, smart, compassionate and equally deserving of merit. Then, suddenly, the results are announced. The winners jump up and high five each other, cheer and then… completely ignore the less fortunate people in the room. What happened here? Aren’t they supposed to be shaking each other’s hands, and quietly sharing some congratulations amongst themselves? Are these people the ones running for Associated Students, to represent me? The answer is yes.
There has to be something wrong with a system that perpetuates this behavior. In no way is it ever acceptable to treat an election in such an unsportsmanlike manner that it reduces a few people to tears. At first I did not understand it- why a group of such good people would act in such a way that is so unlike how they would normally act. I refuse to believe that the candidates for AS positions are simply unsportsmanlike. My roommate was a candidate who lost, and I know him to be a courteous and polite guy. So what is the problem?
The problem lies within the divisions created by the political parties on campus. At the elections announcements, students of our school separated themselves in the room according to what three letter abbreviations their political parties used- all of them students of the University of California Santa Barbara. All of them were students worthy of merit, and all of them probably able to do a good job representing the student body. It isn’t just that a two party system needs to stop- all parties need to stop. Both parties stood for almost all the same general ideas. Lacking a massive philosophical disagreement, the only purpose the parties serve is to divide like-minded people amongst themselves. Besides, it restricts individual thought and propagation of new ideas when you force a candidate to join a pre-made platform in order to have a chance of getting elected.
I understand that students have every right to form political parties. It would be a violation of their basic rights to restrict that. But just because you can do something, does not mean that you should. Associated Students would be better off without these parties, and with candidates that respect and care about each other.