North Texas Daily

Trying to win an election? Don’t say this.

Trying to win an election? Don’t say this.

April 01
21:50 2013

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At midnight on April 1, the polls opened for the UNT Student Government Association’s 2013 election. If you’re among the 90 percent of UNT students who didn’t vote in last year’s election, you probably don’t care too much now.

Of course, if you change your mind it’s worth noting that the voting process is completely online and easily filled out in less than five minutes. If only real elections were that easy.

But as you’re filling out that convenient online ballot, ask yourself: how much do you actually know about the names appearing in front of you? When you vote, do you bother to take a look at the selection of student candidates and why they’re running?

If what we found is any indication, you should probably start.

With a simple handful of Internet searches, we managed to find the Twitter pages of nearly all of the SGA 2013 election’s candidates. Many of them were cleaner than the inside of a bottle of bleach, but we noticed a few posts that really stood out from the crowd and selected them for your viewing pleasure above.

By the way, in case any of you were wondering: The first censored word in John Jacob Hough’s tweet is the first half of a sadly well-known slur against blacks, apparently used here as a term of affection. John Jacob Hough is white.

Sure, we know that most of the questionable tweets we discovered are a year or two old, and might not have anything to do with politics. They’re a little unpleasant, but why does it matter?

The primary role of a student government is to give students a voice in the affairs of their school, but the institution also serves to teach us about participating in a democracy, campaigning for elections and rising to the task of leadership in government. It might be politics on the small scale, but future leaders have to start somewhere–which is probably why so many prominent political figures were once student government presidents, including former President Ronald Reagan and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

And if the SGA candidates shown above really want to experience the reality of politics, they’re going to have to learn about controlling their public image just like these famous elected officials–and then get used to having this image constantly examined.

Picking on these students for their extremely unfiltered tweets might seem petty, and that’s because it’s meant to be.

For the most part, their content is completely unrelated to their ability to represent our student body. But in a political climate where the leadership potential of presidential candidates is questioned over high school pranks and college parties, employees lose their jobs over a few shady pictures on Facebook and the careers of politicians live or die on a single misguided tweet, this kind of scrutiny is necessary.

Publicizing these posts isn’t going to change the outcome of the SGA election or have much of an impact at all, but it should be treated as a reminder to everyone with a reputation worth keeping about the danger of the Web’s uncomfortably long memory.

It might not matter so much now, but if you want to maintain a professional career, run for an office a little higher than student government president or just not be embarrassed when some overzealous Google searcher digs up your past, you should keep these tweets in mind as you cast your ballot this week.

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