SGA, you are public figures, so get used to mudslinging

Two weeks ago, The Cluster published an opinion piece by senior Gene Mitchell, who was at that time a Student Government parliamentarian.
Mitchell, who in the interest of full disclosure is a good friend of mine and regular contributor to the paper, criticized the current crop of SGA candidates, several by name.
Following its publication, president Locke expressed concerns about student reaction to the piece, and Mitchell was ultimately asked to resign from his position last Monday.
Mitchell spoke only out of a genuine love for his school and a desire to see students engage more strongly in their student government.
Yes, he spoke strongly about many students, but only with the hope of encouraging them to do the best they can at their jobs.
The fact that Mitchell was punished for the love of his school is absolutely sickening. I’m appalled at the backlash my friend faced.
Here’s the deal: if you are running for public office, don’t be surprised when people criticize you publicly.
You’ve made a decision to be the public face of your class at Mercer, and it should be obvious that not everyone will agree with you and want to express those opinions.
It is literally your job to listen to those complaints and use them to better Mercer’s campus.
It doesn’t matter if the critiques come from a student, faculty member, or another SGA member.
Getting upset about criticisms is childish, entitled and a testament to the fact that Mitchell was right all along.
A real student leader wouldn’t get offended at criticism. A real leader would listen to those complaints and do something about them.
And I don’t mean trying to silence anyone with a dissenting opinion.
Presumably, many of these SGA members are interested in pursuing a political career in the future.
Do they think they will never be called out by name in that line of work?
Professional politics is comprised of nothing but mudslinging. Mitchell’s criticisms are positively compliments by those standards.
And at the end of the day, pretty much everything Mitchell said was correct.
The junior class and senator-at-large representatives are running unopposed, and none of the candidates have campaigned particularly hard or impressed me in any way.
When it comes down to it, Mitchell was trying to spur the school into action.
I’ve talked to him many times about SGA, and it’s clear that he loves the organization.
He wants nothing but the best for the school, and is in a uniquely qualified position to assist it.
Mitchell is a veteran, and has served his country on the battlefield and as an ambassador.
He maintains good grades and has spent time volunteering with Mercer On Mission. And yet we would rather have students that put no effort into their campaigns on staff?
It makes me glad I’m graduating this May, because I would be fearful of some of the new representatives coming into SGA.
Criticize me as much as you like for what I wrote. I put it out there publicly, and I understand the implications that come with it. But I won’t be resigning as an editor of The Cluster.

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