Proposals for SU

Trevor Mattea | Op-Ed Submission

Our Student Union has more than 60 elected student representatives and a budget of over $2.2 million, so we have to pay attention and do our best to make informed decisions about who we elect to represent us. And if we don’t think we’re being represented, we need to consider running for office ourselves. Although I ended my two-year involvement with our Student Union to contribute to campus in new ways, I still have ideas about how our Student Union could address the structural problems preventing it from reaching its full potential. I have continually shared these ideas with our student representatives over the last six months, but I feel that they have never been given the serious consideration that they deserve. Fortunately, the Student Union constitution provides an alternative for students whose ideas are dismissed by our student representatives. It allows any student the right to put his or her ideas to a vote of all students, so I am collecting 900 signatures to put some of my ideas on the ballot so that we can vote on them directly during the spring election in two weeks.

Our Student Union could be focused on new, creative ways for spending our general budget. We could fund more large-scale programming so that students have a reason to come together more than twice a year. We could host workshops with community organizers to teach our student representatives how to more effectively challenge the administration when it seems to ignore our interests.

We should be fighting to be recognized as legitimate stakeholders at the University. We should focus more of our resources on securing the right to vote for our student representatives on the board of trustees. We should try to get the University to commit to allowing students to select who represents them on University committees. Our Student Union could be an effective advocacy organization on our behalf. We have already missed opportunities like these before. Our Student Union could have taken a stand against the smoking ban that was approved without sufficient student input and followed it up with sufficient resources. Students don’t want our Student Union to make these mistakes again, but I believe that they are inevitable unless we elect students who actually have these priorities and improve the flawed structure in our student government that currently undermines them.

How do you feel about reforming SU?

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I believe that the structure of our Student Union excludes many students who have an interest in our student government’s spending and advocacy priorities. Its structure makes it unnecessarily difficult for us to hold our student representatives accountable for their priorities and actions. It distracts us from engaging in a real debate about the direction of our student government and hinders our student representatives from taking action on the big issues that we elect them to address. As a result, I am proposing the following amendments to the constitution. I believe these amendments will give us more influence in our student government, and they will give student representatives the power to take on the issues most important to us as students.

• Allow undergraduate students who are abroad to be represented and give them the right to vote in elections and run for office.

• Allow all undergraduate students to appeal to the Treasury for funding for their initiatives and programs regardless of whether or not they are in a Student Union recognized group.

• Allow the President to actually set the agenda by giving him or her the right to propose our general budget.

• Allow the President to put a check on Treasury spending by giving him or her the right to veto appeals in the same way that he or she can currently veto other legislation.

• Encourage collaboration between the executive and legislative branches and more ambitious advocacy by giving the President the right to propose legislative priorities to Senate and Treasury.

• Allow undergraduate students to hold Treasury more accountable by holding fall and spring elections like Senate instead of one election a year.

• Allow undergraduate students to hold Senate more accountable by reducing its size to that of Treasury.

• Limit the elected executive offices to the President and Vice President to encourage more people to run for the top offices and make elections about who has the best agenda for students.

• Hold executive elections in the fall semester instead of the spring semester to relieve students from having to serve in executive positions during the second semester of their senior year.

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