Be a Window Not a Wall

When someone adopts a position of power, such as a government position, they also need to adopt a policy of transparency and communication.

This helps to circumvent situations where things can be misconstrued or misunderstood and reduces speculation. Which is what could have happened with the ASEWU unofficial primary election results reported last Wednesday.

When the unofficial results for the primary were posted, with all the ballot measures passing unanimously, some students took to Facebook to voice that they had in fact voted no on some of the initiatives.

“How is this accurate? I voted no on one of these and it says 0. I’m confused,” Amanda Marie Mell commented on the election results posted to Facebook.

As journalists, we at The Easterner immediately flew into action to find out why this discrepancy existed. Was there some deep ASEWU corruption that led to election rigging? Was the democratic freedom of the EWU student body at risk?

No, as it turns out, nothing quite so exciting or nefarious was behind the results. An error with the tabulation program caused only the yes’s to be reported.

Unfortunately, ASEWU didn’t communicate the tabulation issue with the results, even though they had reason to believe it was a problem beforehand. This may have simply been oversight, but it could be misconstrued by students as an attempt to hide information.

“I should have questioned [the results] the moment it happened,” EWU Director of Elections Raul Sanchez, Jr. said.

Granted these were only the unofficial results, but the incident does raise concerns as to why we, and potentially the student body, had to consider worse possibilities. The conflicting reports forced us to attempt to understand the situation with a lack of information due to ASEWU’s nondisclosure of the computer error.

Information helps to control the speculation and suspicion associated with powerful individuals and organizations. Consider this last presidential election, where rampant misinformation and undisclosed information caused arguments and accusations from both sides.

The people want information — the deets, the scoop. Without it, they riot in the streets, demanding to see tax documents and private emails to assuage their mistrust.

While Wednesday’s incident didn’t result in anything worse than puzzled students and questioning journalists, situations like this could become much worse. ASEWU should take this as a learning opportunity and better communicate to their public what is going on behind the scenes to avoid confusion.