Student Life’s SU Election Endorsements

The Student Life Editorial Board interviewed each of the 10 candidates running for a Student Union 2010-2011 executive position. It is exciting to see both the Bold and [open] slates running for office this year—two experienced slates with innovative ideas. Overall, we felt the Bold slate presented pragmatic ways to improve SU within the existing structure. [open] proposed riskier, drastic changes that, if successful, would change the way that the student body perceives and interacts with SU. Each candidate presented a unique skill set independent from his or her slate, and we endorsed each candidate as opposed to an entire slate. We also included our decisions on the 10 proposed constitutional amendments. Summaries of the block funding proposals are listed for informational purposes.

President

Morgan DeBaun, Open
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnA4L9IezSU

vs. Nate Ferguson, Bold
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSk41T8SO-A

Morgan may not belong to the Bold slate, but we think she’s the one with the truly bold ideas for SU. We like her plans to create bigger, better programming on campus, to make the Women’s Building a gathering space for student groups, and to make SU resources, including Treasury allocations, more accessible to all students. Nate gave a great pitch with substitutive ideas about how to make SU into a forward-looking institution. Were he elected, we’re sure some good conversations would arise from his five-year plan. Morgan’s focus on the present, however, was even more impressive. We think she has a much-needed willingness to shake things up and challenge conventional SU practices. She shares our desire to see SU be a more forceful advocate on behalf of the student body. We have said many times this year that SU is need of change, and for those who want to see improvements to SU, we think Morgan is the best bet.

Vice president of administration

Mike Post, Bold
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMJeZVUE2MA

vs. Kirsten Miller, Open
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5KyVk-_vJY

This was a tough choice, but Mike impressed us with his enthusiasm and knowledge about the inner workings of SU. Vice president of administration is very internally focused position, and, therefore, we believe it requires an experienced insider to do the job. It can also be a difficult, dull position, and we think Mike’s knowledge of what it entails and ability to self-motivate will best enable him to do a consistently good job throughout the year. We like his plan for improving the SU archives to create greater institutional knowledge within SU, as well as his plans to expand campus card functionality. We also hope that he can fix SU’s broken retention process and stem the tide of resignations that has characterized this year. Kirsten Miller’s ideas on this topic mostly included reactive measures, such as exit interviews for those who resign. Mike seems interested in how to keep them from quitting in the first place.

Vice president of finance

Eliot Walker, Open httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwSSGb30Ur8&feature=channel

vs. Olivia Hassan, Bold
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxGPVmssgIM

Eliot has clearly done his homework and knows the ins and outs of this position, and the SU budget, very well. Vice president of finance is a job that requires a lot of knowledge of SU’s intricacies, and we believe that makes Eliot the more-qualified candidate. While Olivia presented good ideas, such as reducing the number of phones in the SU office (which would result in $12,000 worth of savings), she described herself as willing to move Treasury in a less “nit-picky” direction. We feel this is not the right philosophy for such a detail-oriented body. We think Eliot’s consistent experience in Treasury gives him the acquired wisdom necessary to do his job properly, yet we also believe he has a willingness to reconsider SU’s established practices when necessary. We like his plan to allow individual students to appeal to Treasury, his plans to expand the Treasury liaison program, his intention to be actively involved in the Treasury allocation process, and his plan to use the increased activities-fee revenue for the Assembly Series.

Vice president of programming

Tricia Bailey, Bold
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C47j-m6PJcI

vs. John Harrison York, Open
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M1UyD-ts0

Both John Harrison and Tricia are SU outsiders and seemed ready to address the main issues of their office. While we liked John Harrison’s suggestion of bringing back club night, he provided few specifics on how he might achieve such a plan.

Tricia, however, was detail-oriented and explained how she would tap into existing SU resources to achieve her goals. For instance, she noted that over-programming was an issue, and said student groups who plan collaborative events will be rewarded through the budget allocation process. Tricia has a clear knowledge of what the position of vice president of programming entails, well-conceived plans, and a strong sense of what makes for effective programming at Wash. U.

Vice president of public relations

Cody Katz, Open
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwOnBUBJrwE

vs. Ehi Okoruwa, Bold
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVqBr6GMi3g

Cody gets our vote for being both a creative and strategic thinker. We like his willingness to think carefully about which PR ideas are most effective rather than simply finding ways to do PR for the sake of PR. He was able to provide us with specific, valuable ideas, such as recruiting art and marketing students for a PR committee that would be available as a resource for all student groups. We also like his plans to improve the SU Web site, although we hope he will also address the problem of low Web site traffic. We believe that the way SU currently communicates with students is one of its greatest weaknesses. To transform how students perceive SU, we suggest a large-scale approach. While Ehi recognized that SU needed to be more available to students, her ideas—such as an interactive calendar in the DUC and broader use of the campus’s underused display cases—did not capture the scope of the problem.

Constitutional amendments

The constituents of Student Union shall consists of all full-time undergraduate students of Washington University in St. Louis. This group may also be referred to as the constituency.
for: This amendment will allow students studying abroad to vote and run in elections. Full participation by all full-time students, including those abroad, should be encouraged, because they have a serious stake in SU’s direction. These students should have a say in who represents them upon their return to Wash. U., and if they are willing, they should be able to run themselves.

[The president shall] have the power to veto, in writing, any appeal by the Treasury of the Student Union within three (3) business days of its passage; [The president shall] have the power to enact, by a two-thirds (2/3) of the total Representatives of the Treasury, legislation or allocations previously passed, which was subsequently vetoed by the President of the Student Union.
for: Since the president already enjoys this power over the Senate, we think it important that these same powers be extended over the Treasury. This might help untie some of the bureaucracy, as well as enhance the president’s power to effect change over the year.

All constituents shall have the right to appeal for Student Union funding regardless of whether or not they are in a Student Union recognized group.
for: We feel that individual students are just as capable of bringing dynamic and interesting programming as student groups, while allowing students put off by the lengthy group-recognition process to seek funds.

Elections for Executive Officers shall be held in the Fall Semester.
against: The concern that the obligations and apathy that students experience in the second semester of senior year hinders effective SU leadership may be a legitimate one. But these issues are possible throughout senior year; no matter when elections occur, those running for SU office must know what they are getting into and must be committed enough to balance their responsibilities with senior theses, graduate school applications and senioritis. Also, fall elections would disadvantage freshmen, who would have only a few weeks to become familiar with SU before the election.

Preceding the fall and spring semester elections, the number of constituents in each school shall be obtained by the Election Commissioner. Each school shall have one (1) Senator for every three hundred twenty-five (325) constituents. If the remaining number of constituents in that school is greater than one hundred sixty-two (162), there shall be one (1) additional senator in the school. Each school shall, regardless of its enrollment, have a minimum of two senators.
for: Students should have equal representation in both bodies of the SU legislature. Also, reducing the number Senate seats will make Senate elections more competitive and lessen the need for appointments to fill vacancies.

[The president shall] prepare an annual budget for the Student Union accounting for all planned expenditures of the Student Activity Fee. The President may delegate this power to the Vice President of Finance.
against: While we understand that the outlined budget largely determines what the president is able to do, we’re unsure that eliminating the powers of other elected officials (in this case the vp of finance) is the proper way to address this problem. Budget planning is a complex responsibility that should be and the skills we look for in a vp finance are not the same skills we seek in our president.

[The president shall] present a State of the Student Union Address to all branches of the Student Union at least once each semester that shall include legislative priorities and action plans for the Legislative Branch.
for: It is slightly worrying that such a thing needs to be spelled in the constitution, but we’re for any effort to inject some substance into the political discourse.

Elections of Representatives of the Treasury will be held twice annually, in the fall semester and in the spring semester.
for: We generally believe that Senate and Treasury should be held to the same standards, and be thought of as similar representative units. This might help people to actually pay attention to these elections, might allow interested freshmen to run, and might make ballots more manageable.

The Executive Officers of the Student Union shall be the President and Vice President; Appoint a Secretary of Programming, Secretary of Finance, and Secretary of Public Relations with consent of the Senate and Treasury and have the power to remove such persons from their positions, with the consent of the Senate and Treasury.
against: We are inclined to think that the increased powers that the president will enjoy if some of these amendments pass would be better balanced by a full suite of elected officials. Furthermore, we are skeptical that a president would act in good faith in the appointments of his or her cabinet. We feel there is no fundamental difference between choosing a slate and appointing additional executive board members once in office.

The creation of the Diversity Affairs Council (DAC) represents a firm commitment from Student Union to issues of diversity, with a focus on facilitating: (1) Diversity Training, (2) Collaborative Diversity Programming and Scheduling, and (3) Issue Advocacy. The DAC will provide a forum for students and student groups interested in multicultrual, socioeconoic, religious, and GLBTQIA issues and more. As a core component of Student Union, the DAC will work closely with the Student Union President, VIce President of Programming, and Senate to improve the Washington University student experience. Most importantly, the DAC will recieve no budget and cost ZERO DOLLARS of your student activity fee.
for: with reservations. In talks with the DAC’s representatives, we were left with the impression that many of its aims (lobbying the administration’s admission criteria, reducing over-programming) might be beyond their reach. But we were also left with the impression that, given the chance, this group of passionate people might effect some good. We’ll be watching closely over the next year to see they make good on their promises. But in the end, we still think they deserve a shot.

Block funding

S.A.R.A.H.:
S.A.R.A.H. (Sexual Assault and Rape Anonymous Helpline) is a 24/7 pager-based helpline providing counseling and support for students. S.A.R.A.H. is applying for $5,500 per year for two years, which constitutes 0.24% of the Student Union budget.

Hatchet:
Hatchet, the Washington University student Yearbook, is asking for subsidies to lower the publication costs for the next two years. The funding will lower the price of yearbooks to students $75 to $10 per yearbook.

Habitat:
Washington University’s Habitat for Humanity chapter is requesting $7,000 dollars for next year’s chapter budget. The budget accommodates costs for events such as HFH St. Louis Trivia and a Build Challenge. One of the stated purposes for the chapter’s budget is to implement programming that allows students to “strengthen the St. Louis communities in which Habitat homes are located.”

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