Student Life endorses Robinson, Adler, Ragnone, Jeter, Hyder
From successful initiatives to investigation and scandal to resignations, Student Union has attracted much attention this year. When students vote this Tuesday, they will have the opportunity to decide how they want their student government to function moving forward, specifically in response to actions and a culture created in the past year.
Only two races of five are contested this year—those for vice president of administration and vice president of finance—and both have healthy competition with candidates who are experienced with the inner workings of SU and have demonstrated an interest in improving the relationship between Student Union and the Washington University community.
Two candidates, sophomore Brian Adler and sophomore Tess Mandoli, are vying for the position of VP Admin. Adler, currently serves as a member of Senate, while Mandoli is the current Sophomore Class Council President.
Of all the SU positions, VP Admin may have the most vaguely defined responsibilities. For that reason, it requires detailed plans and paths to execution. It also requires a working knowledge of the processes and existing relationships within SU in order to facilitate internal affairs.
As a member of Senate, Adler has more than taken advantage of his ability to effect change on campus through a number of initiatives that he has spearheaded. He has been actively involved in promoting mental health resources on campus, including helping to hire five new doctors for Student Health Services and penning a letter in support of Planned Parenthood that has gotten support from presidents at 13 other universities. It is the opinion of the Student Life Editorial Board that Adler’s concrete ideas and clear objectives, as well as his history of impressive results, makes him the better candidate for the position.
Adler has also made accountability a crucial part of his platform. He has specific plans to hold himself accountable through the establishment of a Student Union Transparency Report. And in response to the recent Senate scandal, he has called for the creation of a Letter to the Senate Speaker, which will act as a detailed outline of the expectations for active senators.
The contest for VP Finance this year is between two very experienced SU officials. Both juniors, Keaton Schifer and Iliana Ragnone were elected to Treasury in their first semester on campus and have each held various leadership positions within SU and are vocal members of our student government. Ragnone currently serves as the Speaker of the Treasury and Schifer sits as a regular member on Treasury, but served as the leader of the Presidential Debate Funding Team last semester.
Though both candidates have proven their interest in improving the transparency and accountability of the financial processes of Student Union, the editorial board endorses Ragnone to be the next Vice President of Finance.
We believe that Ragnone’s substantial experience working with student groups to help them get funding will enable her to best promote student interests in the coming school year. She has a vision to not only make information on student group budgeting and finances more accessible, but also to make it understandable. Ragnone plans to create one page manuals and simplify the design of the SU website to accomplish this goal, which the editorial board commends as a way to increase transparency within SU. As a visible leader within SU currently, we firmly believe that Ragnone is ready to step into an executive role and lead Student Union towards a more accountable and open culture.
Student Life also endorses the candidates running unopposed for the three other Exec positions: sophomores Sydney Robinson for President, Kyle Jeter for VP Programming and Bilal Hyder for VP Public Relations. However, while it is likely that each will find themselves in these positions there are still a number of things for them to take into consideration.
Robinson, who has served on Treasury for the past two years and chair of the Activities Committee for the past year, is a strong choice to be the face of SU for the next year. What may be Robinson’s greatest strength is her clear passion and desire to make Student Union welcoming and open, instead of intimidating and unapproachable. She also demonstrated her commitment and drive by stepping up to serve the role of Chief of Staff after Cary Cheng was promoted to VP Admin following Sankalp Kapur’s resignation.
We are confident that Robinson has the proper experience, demeanor and agenda in serving as the next SU President.
Jeter comes to SU from the Congress of the South 40 where he currently serves as speaker. Despite not having previous SU-specific experience, he does have commensurate experience that speaks to his ability to succeed in the programming position. Jeter has clear, outlined goals for improving WUGO as well as refocusing class councils to serve their respective classes more effectively in the different phases of their Wash. U. experiences. Jeter has also found success in his role on CS40 by revamping programming for College Councils as well as piloting a CS40 version of the Opportunity Fund. He is an active presence on the South 40, which speaks to his ability to be accessible and present as programming.
Where Jeter’s inexperience with SU shows, and what he should work to improve before he likely takes office, is in his plans for working with SPB. Jeter suggested he would take a hands-off approach to SPB, but seemed fairly unfamiliar with the organization. As the SU Exec member in charge of working with SPB, it’s important for Jeter to be able to hold the group accountable.
While the Editorial Board endorses Hyder for the position of vice president of public relations, he is the candidate with which we have the most reservation. Hyder spoke of his vision to streamline and organize the processes for the PR process, but the rest of his platform was vague. While we endorse him, we implore him to be more clear about his goals moving forward.
Ultimately, it’s up to students to turn out to vote on Tuesday and to continue to hold their representatives accountable. We at Student Life are excited to see the results of the election, and hope that the next SU Exec will take steps to make Wash. U. a more inclusive and engaged community for all of its students.
Editor’s Note: Editor-in-chief Noa Yadidi and Associate Editor Wesley Jenkins were recused from discussions concerning the position of Vice President of Finance.