Why we should change the SU exec calendar

Trevor Mattea | Op-Ed Submission

Although “senior burnout” has been central to my argument in favor of changing the Student Union executive officers’ calendar, I believe that there are other important reasons to do so. By changing the calendar, newly elected Student Union executive officers may experience more momentum for pushing their agendas, more transition time, more access to outgoing executive officers, and more time to present the general budget.

The executive officers are currently elected in the spring semester, usually the week before spring break, and the vice president of finance presents the general budget later in the spring semester, usually a couple of weeks before the end of school. At the same time, executive officers usually serve from the middle of the second semester of their junior year until the middle of the second semester of their senior year, although some serve terms that overlap their sophomore and junior years. It would be better if the officers were elected near the end of the fall semester and they began their terms at the very beginning of the spring semester.

The executive officers should serve on a calendar that empowers them to accomplish as much as possible. As a general rule, they only experience momentum twice during their tenure—when they begin their terms and at the beginning of a new school year. These are the times when they are most motivated and students are paying the most attention. But the potential in the first of these instances is not fully realized because officers begin their terms in the middle of the second semester, when there is a little more than two months before the end of school.

If the executive officers were elected near the end of the fall semester, either right before Thanksgiving or sometime between Thanksgiving and finals, and began their terms at the very beginning of the spring semester, the potential at the beginning of their terms would be fully realized because there would be more time between then and the end of school, while the potential at the beginning of a new school year would be unchanged.

It would provide additional transition time because the newly elected executive officers would have the time between their election and winter break, as well as between winter break itself, which would be between one and two months, during which they could focus on preparing themselves for their new responsibilities. Currently, they have the weeklong spring break and two weeks after school starts again, for a total of three weeks to focus on this task. Any increase in transition time benefits students and their representatives in Student Union.

It would provide additional time in which the outgoing executive officers would be available on campus to provide guidance to the newly elected executive officers, because they would be available for the entire spring semester, which is almost four months. Currently, the outgoing executive officers are only available on campus to provide guidance to the newly elected executive officers from spring break to the end of school, which is a little more than two months. Any increase in access to outgoing executive officers benefits students and their representatives in Student Union.

Assuming the timing of the general budget would not change—and there is no reason why it should change along with the calendar—a new calendar would provide additional time in which the newly elected executive officers would be able to prepare the budget, because the time between their election and when the general budget is presented would be extended to almost four months. Currently, the time between their election and when the general budget is presented is a little more than a month. Any increase in the amount of time available to discuss the general budget benefits students and their representatives in Student Union.

I reject the notion that freshman voters are significantly more informed about Student Union executive officer candidates in February and March than they would be in November or December, or, at least, I think that this cost would be outweighed by other benefits. While changing the Student Union executive officers’ calendar would provide seniors an opportunity to focus more of their energies on friends, graduate school programs and job opportunities, perhaps most importantly, it would provide more momentum for newly elected officers to push their agenda, more transition time, more access to outgoing executive officers, and more time to present the general budget.

Trevor is a junior in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at tsmattea@wustl.edu.