EDITORIALS

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April 30, 2013

SG 2013: Slate Evaluations

The four executive slates offer different ideas about the role and direction Student Government should take over the next year.

Editor’s note: Over the course of the election cycle, the Maroon has been cited by the Election and Rules Committee in a complaint against one of the four candidates for Executive Slate. The Maroon believes that this citation compromises the Editorial Board’s ability to make an objective judgment in the eyes of its readers, and so the Editorial Board will not endorse an Executive Slate in this election.

Ignite

Ignite has put forth a platform that aims to take advantage of the three candidates’ significant SG experience. The slate is composed of second-year presidential candidate Yusef Al-Jarani, second-year Vice President for Administration candidate Ezgi Cubukcu, and third-year chemistry Ph.D. student and Vice President for Student Affairs candidate Anthony Martinez. Al-Jarani currently serves as the vice president for student affairs, while Cubukcu has two years of experience as a College Council representative, and has served on the Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC) and as a liaison to the Campus Dining Advisory Board. Martinez is a member of both Graduate Council and SGFC.

A notable aspect of Ignite’s platform is a desire to engage with student groups, particularly RSOs, in order to better understand student needs and communicate those needs to administrators. The observation underlying this strategy—that RSOs are an excellent resource for mining diverse and well-organized student input—is a solid one. The representative power of SG is well suited to aid the initiatives of RSOs, and such a partnership would represent a welcome shift on the part of SG from simply polling students to engaging with them. Al-Jarani also suggested that SG could assist students with avoiding administrative backlog and confusion by connecting students to the administrator most relevant to their complaints or interests. An additional praiseworthy aspect of Ignite’s platform is the slate’s interest in improving Student Health Services and sexual assault policies. With regard to graduate student issues, Martinez eloquently displayed a broad understanding of common concerns, among them affordable child care and the distinct challenges faced by international students.

All three candidates, and Al-Jarani in particular, clearly have a well-developed knowledge of how SG works. While this has the potential to be a great advantage, it is necessary also to caution that experience can breed complacency. Ignite Slate promises to stay attuned to the student body, but experience on SG may be liable to interfere with the ability to approach it with a fresh perspective.

Impact

The three candidates for Impact have all been involved in activist RSOs on campus and interacted with the administration in that capacity. They have never held SG positions. Their presidential candidate, third-year Michael McCown, helped found Students for Health Equity; VP for Student Affairs candidate and first-year Jane Huber is in Seeds of Justice; and VP for Administration candidate and second-year Sofia Flores is one of the leaders of Southside Solidarity Network.

Impact’s platform is refreshing, attempting to tackle long-term reforms that run the gamut from socially responsible investment to emergency care on the South Side. The candidates certainly have the qualifications and experience to address these issues, and seem to have accurately identified a number of issues for which student groups have long been advocating. If elected, the members of the slate would gain access to administrators in ways that would be vital to enacting reforms. While voters should keep in mind that a vote for Impact will be a vote that supports explicit stances on specific issues, McCown has pledged to view changing student opinion as fundamental to the role of an SG executive.

While these broader goals are a nice change from the smaller-scale, school spirit–type initiatives we are used to from SG, they also risk overshadowing the day-to-day operations of SG that may be more integral than we realize. For example, though Flores has dealt with Annual Allocations as an RSO member, her experience does not equate to the knowledge required of someone overseeing the process from the SG perspective. There is the possibility that they will get bogged down by under-the-radar duties and be forced to neglect their ambitious and admittedly desirable platform.

UChicaGOLD

All of the members of UChicaGOLD offer previous SG experience. Presidential candidate Steph Mui is a third-year College Council (CC) representative; Vice President for Student Affairs candidate and second-year Raymond Dong serves as the current SG chief of staff and was on CC last year; first-year M.B.A. student Josh Johnston (A.B. ’04), the slate’s candidate for vice president for administration, sits on Graduate Council.

The slate is pledging to increase SG’s presence on campus and to make the body more transparent. They have already begun meeting with administrators to discuss expanding SG representation to different houses and RSOs, and will work to create an online forum where students can submit complaints to SG. They will also use a data-driven approach to bring student concerns to administrators, a strategy that Dong has already seen succeed during his work on the Roosevelt shuttle survey over the past year. Johnston is also the only candidate on any slate who is an alumnus of the College, which will give him a unique perspective on how to best address both undergraduate and graduate concerns.

Although the Maroon is encouraged by UChicaGOLD’s efforts to expand SG’s presence on campus, there are also limits to a data-driven approach to increasing student engagement. While surveys and polling are useful instruments for gathering student input and presenting a case to administrators, these tools do not provide an incentive for students to engage with a project beyond giving feedback. The Maroon is also skeptical of the slate’s proposal to allow RSOs to receive retroactive funding for an event from the Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC). Even though UChicaGOLD pledges to make clear what kind of expenses would be eligible for retroactive funding, RSO funding guidelines are already complex enough. SGFC’s deadlines ensure that RSOs can better plan for an event knowing exactly how much support they will receive from SGFC funds.

Moose Party

Editor’s note: The Moose Party chose not to appear before the Editorial Board.

In its 20th successive year of candidacy, Delta Upsilon’s slate is hoping to win its first ever election and start making UChicago a “more bro place.” The slate consists of second-year Daniel Matam and first-years Jacob Silverman and Sabahudin Redzepovic, who are running on a partially recycled satirical platform.

One of their allegedly humorous proposals—to institute a “South Side survival test,” in place of the College’s recently eliminated swim test, as a way to deter potential applicants—is insensitive in light of the over 500 homicides that took place throughout Chicago in 2012. Voters should keep this in mind before deciding whether lending their support to Moose Party is really the best way to voice their dissatisfaction with the SG status quo.

The Editorial Board consists of the Editors-in-Chief and Viewpoints Editors.

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