Student Life endorses Elevate! for SU exec
Editor’s note: Due to a miscommunication during the interview, a previous version of this editorial said that the 2013 Greek Week occurred under Connection’s Victoria Hulsing’s oversight. This was not the case, as she was elected to her position on Panhellenic Council in 2014.
Student Union executive elections will be held this Wednesday and Thursday, and for the first time in four years, the election is contested. The candidates of both slates—Elevate! and Connection—are coming into the election with a great deal of experience, enthusiasm and ideas. However, after interviewing both slates, Student Life came to the decision that Elevate! was the clear choice. First, we will go through each of the five positions individually.
The two presidential candidates, Elevate!’s Emma Tyler and Connection’s Will Ralls, are perhaps the strongest part of each of their respective slates. Tyler in particular possesses significant leadership experience, particularly the experience of serving as the first president of the brand-new Social Programming Board last year. Serving in that position involved overseeing the consolidation of multiple campus programming groups into one highly influential organization, and she did an impressive job making the transition smooth while still branding SPB as a new-and-improved entity. Frankly, SPB is much better run than most other organizations on campus (including SU), and Tyler’s expertise would help her revamp SU to make it more efficient and respected by students. Ralls certainly has leadership experience, too—he is currently president of Junior Class Council and a residential advisor, to name a few examples—but his experience pales in comparison to that of Tyler, who has also served as president of the Freshman and Sophomore Class Councils in years past. Both candidates came into the interview brimming with goals and ideas, but thanks to her proven effectiveness as a leader, StudLife concluded that Tyler was the clear winner.
We reached a similar conclusion for the position of vice president of public relations. Like Tyler, Elevate!’s Brian Benton has proven himself through SPB, where he served as comedy director last year. SPB’s public relations efforts (particularly on social media) have been consistently impressive and would serve as a good model for SU. On top of that, Benton has done design, video and photo work for a number of other organizations on campus. While Connection’s Archer Brock would also bring plenty of experience to her position—particularly PR experience from serving on college councils her freshman and sophomore years—her skills simply aren’t as proven as those of Benton.
Both candidates for vice president of administration are fairly strong. Elevate!’s Vivek Biswas has served on SU Senate since his freshman year and is currently speaker of the Senate, on top of serving on a number of other campus committees and organizations. Connection’s Ryan Halvorsen has also served on SU Senate since his freshman year and is currently the president of Wash. U.’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, the national service fraternity. Biswas came into the interview with a number of goals for SU, and although some seemed misguided—for instance, an idea to enable regular students to submit Senate resolutions—the amount of thought he had clearly put into the position helped him stand out above Halvorsen. Once again, Elevate! wins.
The race for vice president of finance is somewhat complicated by the fact that Elevate!’s Nick Palermo is the incumbent. SU has done very little over the past year, and Treasury’s recent decision to defund Bauhaus also isn’t doing him any favors. However, Connection’s Sam Gorsche, SU Treasury’s current budget committee chair, is equally to blame for these Treasury issues. In their interviews, both candidates seemed dedicated to revamping SU’s organization, particularly the way they plan the Speaker Series. In the end, though, Palermo’s previous experience makes him the safer choice.
Vice president of programming was the position about which StudLife had the most reservations. Given the strength of the rest of the slate, StudLife was surprised that Elevate! could not find a more experienced candidate for the position. Laura Roettges’ experience is unfortunately limited to her role as external vice president of Sophomore Class Council and treasurer of the Alpha Rho Chi architecture fraternity. Connection’s Victoria Hulsing has held various leadership positions on Congress of the South 40 and the Women’s Panhellenic Association, but her accomplishments in the two organizations are not very notable, or even negative. (For instance, the great Macklemore ticket fiasco of 2013 happened during Hulsing’s administration.) All voting StudLife editorial board members abstained from voting on this position.
Both Elevate! and Connection have several strong candidates, and the fact that this election is contested for the first time in years likely pushed both slates to run the best campaigns they possibly could. In the end, though, Elevate! emerged the clear winner. Primarily, Elevate!’s candidates have more experience, particularly within SU and SPB, leaving StudLife much more confident in their ability to manage SU. Connection seems to have more of an outsider’s perspective, which is certainly valuable, but the slate came in with many criticisms of SU and only a few concrete ideas about how to improve it, mainly focused on increasing transparency. In comparison, Elevate! came in with specific, novel goals for promoting interest in SU, reaching out to students and streamlining SU’s organization, among other ideas. We especially liked its goal to phase out the slate system for elections, for instance. It is worth noting, though, that the strength of Elevate!’s ideas and platform may only be the product of its institutional advantage; a lack of transparency in SU’s operations could very well have prevented Connection from having better ideas about how to improve SU.
In any case, we would like to thank both slates for meeting with the Student Life editorial board, and we are extremely excited for the first contested election of SU exec in a long while. Though we endorse Elevate! for all seats but vice president of programming, we would like to commend all the individuals running for their willingness to sacrifice time and effort to improve our student government and the student body as a whole.