With Student Government (SG) elections taking place from April 19 to April 21, candidates for College Council, liaison to the Board of Trustees, Community and Government liaison, and Executive Slate will soon be making their way through campus and asking students for concerns and suggestions. In the spirit of election season, here are some suggestions for this year’s candidates.
Consider creating a system for students to evaluate their study abroad programs. Choosing a study abroad program is a decision that many students must make every year without substantial feedback from students who’ve gone abroad in previous quarters. Regular classes have evaluations, and it doesn’t make sense for study abroad to be exempt. A detailed online assessment allowing students to describe their experiences and express grievances would go a long way toward making sure that students have all the information necessary to make such an important decision.
Continue working to bring more (and more prominent) speakers to campus. Events in which world-famous speakers come to the U of C are among the most popular on campus. So far this year, there has not been a marquee event comparable to Bill Gates’s speech last year, although this problem is partially addressed by the TEDx conference planned for later this month. However, tickets for the conference will cost 20 dollars for students, and the published list of speakers leaves something to be desired. Perhaps setting aside the necessary funding to establish a yearly lecture series featuring a world-renowned scholar or figure, the way many other peer institutions do, would be a simple solution to this problem.
Use the Internet more. Webcasting is an effective way of making sure that students don’t miss important campus events, whether they’re open forums, sporting matches, or appearances by famous speakers. Think about archiving those events and linking to them on the SG website. We know the technological requirements for this suggestion are already in place and that some campus events have already been broadcasted over the Internet. Expanding the scope of this initiative would not be difficult, and would benefit students who are not able to attend events of interest.
Improve visibility on campus. When there was a vacancy on College Council this winter quarter, SG made very little effort to publicize the subsequent election to fill the seat. As a result, only one candidate appeared on the ballot. This should not happen again, and is especially relevant in the upcoming weeks when the elections will most likely leave College Council positions vacant. Future vacancies, and other important developments, should be publicized widely to the rest of the student body. The infrastructure for this is also already in place—not only does SG have a website and a blog, but it can also send e-mails to the whole student body—leaving no excuse for poor advertisement.
These are the kinds of things next year’s SG should be concerned with: Small, practical reforms that yield tangible benefits. Hopefully as the campaign race gets underway, this year’s candidates will take the ideas outlined here and run with them.
The Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional editorial board member.