I cannot explain it. I could not even begin to try to articulate my convoluted reasoning for it, but I have surprisingly been rather uncharacteristically intrigued by this year’s installment of the three ring circus that is the elections for legislative seats and executive positions in the UT SGA.
Try as I might, I cannot look away. I could try to couch this as I have in previous years as a case of wanting to watch a car crash in progress and gaze at the fires that ensue in the aftermath or cite some sort of political schadenfreude, but that is not the case this time. While I cannot say that this election cycle has seen anything that could be considered vastly different from previous years, there is something about it that continues to retain at least a portion of my attention.
In my years as an undergraduate student at this university, I have watched and rolled my eyes — along with the 90-some percent of the student body that is far too apathetic about the perennial farce to vote — as Greek-stocked campaigns repeatedly step up and declare that they are somehow radically different from one another. They never are ... or at least they never had a chance to be.
In what will be my fifth viewing of SGA elections, I see something of a stark contrast between the respective top-flight parties, though I do feel a sense of guarded optimism about it all.
 In “FUEL,” I see nothing more than the status quo. Captained by Adam Roddy, a current SGA Executive Board member, this party seems to be the typical gaggle of frat boys and sorority girls that parade around proclaiming they will work proactively with the administration to get things done, announcing that they will provide a sense of stable leadership going forward (a not-so-subtle assertion that they believe members of their party will be winning elections for years to come), and asserting that they will do what’s best for the student body they hope to represent. Moreover, I find some of their policy promises somewhat humorous because they include certain provisions and initiatives, such as a smart phone application to track buses moving around campus, that are already coming down the proverbial pike thanks to the slightest bit of proactivity on the part of what is sometimes an otherwise complacent administration. It is great to be able to promise that you will get a certain thing done when you know that its implementation is imminent. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and get ready to take credit for what was not really your achievement.
What I find disturbing about Roddy and his party is that there have been reports that he has accepted a student employee position inside Chancellor Cheek’s office. If this is in fact true, it’s a little bit more akin to working FOR the administration than WITH the administration. Though one could argue that would allow FUEL to have the chancellor’s ear, I find it somewhat doubtful that any employee would do too much to bite the proverbial hand that feeds him, regardless of whatever duty he has to his constituents to provide a voice of opposition to the powers that be whenever necessary.
With “REVOLT,” I see promise, but I cannot help but feel that I need to be cautious with whatever measure of optimism I might find with their message.
 This is a party that burst onto the proverbial scene promising to stand up for the student body — regardless of how futile it might be at times — and speak truth to power when the administration does something objectionable. Though they seem to have inched away from their initial contrarian rhetoric, they still seem to be implying that they are the anti-establishment campaign — an easy claim to make when pitted against the status quo.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not totally convinced. After all, REVOLT’s presidential nominee, Daniel Aycock, was quoted on the front page of this paper as saying that he hoped that Cheek would remember the Chancellor’s Honors Council and Honors Program. He said “We need to know that we are a priority for the administration.” While that might not have been the best choice of words for someone running on a sort of egalitarian, speak truth to power platform, I still see more promise with this campaign.
Should you vote? Who knows. Will it make a difference? Probably not. Is it still intriguing? Absolutely.

— Derek Mullins is a senior in political science. He can be reached at dmullin5@utk.edu.