SU wants you; Wash. U. needs you

Kenneth Sng | President of Student Union, Class of 2017

The 2017 Spring Elections are coming up and we would like to encourage all students to run for Student Union. Now, more than ever, there is a need for passionate student leaders to serve in the Student Union to help drive positive change both on campus and in the greater Washington University community.

Come March 7, the student body will come together and elect the next Student Union president and vice presidents, 13 Senators, 13 Treasury representatives, Olin Business Council, Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Class presidents and vice presidents. With a $3 million budget, 17 different entities and over 200 student officers doing work ranging from community service, to programming, to finance, to advocacy, Student Union is responsible for supporting students and creating change on campus. Whether you are interested in allocating the student activities fee to more than 300 student groups on campus, programming for your entire class of 1,700 students or advocating for the needs of our entire student body, there is a place in Student Union for you.

We believe that Student Union needs to have a diverse representation of the student body to function effectively and serve all students. In a SU Diversity Survey report released in 2014, 1 in 4 treasury representatives were women. Today, we are proud to say that more than half of our representatives identify as women, along with a racial distribution that reflects the student body as a whole. While progress has been made in the past few years that has helped us become a more diverse Student Union, and in turn better represent the wider needs of the student body, there is still much more progress that can be made.

There are many ways that diverse representation can be achieved in the Student Union. In the Diversity Affairs Council report released last December, it was revealed that there is a lack of representation of students from lower socioeconomic status in both Senate and Treasury. Furthermore, there is a smaller representation from both Hispanic and African-American students in the aforementioned branches of the Student Union. With a more diverse Student Union, we can ensure that every student in the Washington University community can feel like they have a voice in the way their Student Union is operated.

As an elected officer of Student Union you have the ability to make your vision for the University community possible. Student Union not only gives you access to many resources, but also connects you with administrators who have the ability to influence University policy at various levels.

The Opportunity Fund is Student Union’s newest initiative to support socioeconomic diversity on campus. Begun as an idea that was brought up during an election platform brainstorming session by Emma Tyler, the 48th Student Union President, the fund is soon going to reach out to 700 Pell Grant-eligible students because of the hard work put in my various Student Union officers who decided to make this idea a reality.

Another example is Student Union’s campaign to end sexual assault on campus. It’s On Us is a national initiative started by Vice President Joe Biden. First introduced to Wash. U.’s campus in 2015, the campaign focused on getting individual commitments from student groups to support the cause. In 2016, the 49th Student Union Executive board introduced bystander intervention training sessions to empower students with practical steps to intervene in situations. With the help and support of over 60 student groups, the goal of training 15 percent of the student body was surpassed.

If you want to learn more about how you can make a difference through Student Union, we encourage you to attend our information sessions, the first one being held on Thursday, Feb. 23 in Simon Hall 112 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the second session being held on Monday, Feb. 27 in Simon Hall 112 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Election packets are available today on WUGO, and having your name appear on the ballot is as simple as getting a half and half.

Run, and be the voice in Student Union that the student body needs.

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