Greater visibility needed for new Student Union exec

With Elevate! sworn in this past Thursday, we are interested in seeing what parts of its platform the slate plans on following through and what changes will occur within Student Union in the coming year.

A primary issue that we see within Student Union now is a general lack of visibility and clarity. Perhaps the student body in general is apathetic to the day-to-day activities of the student government, but this situation could be remedied. New president Emma Tyler made Social Programming Board a relevant and visible student group by branding it and defining its niche within the campus community, and we sincerely hope she brings that experience and skill set to her now position.

We all know of Student Union and see it as a viable and important group on campus, but we don’t really know what it does or who it is. Many of the dealings go on behind the scenes without student involvement or awareness.

For instance, thinking back to fall W.I.L.D., then-President of SU Matt Re shut down hookup website aWILDnight and created a controversy because Re failed to engage the campus in any kind of dialogue. Re may not have been acting in official SU capacity when contacting the administration to shut down the site, but it is the job of the SU president to represent the desires of the student body in all his decisions, not to act unilaterally.

We hope that the members of Elevate! will make themselves visible, accountable and involved with students rather than fade into the obscurity of mundane functionality. Yes, Wash. U. can have an apathetic climate at times, but perhaps SU should work to counteract that tendency.

Maybe by next year, there will be enough student interest to increase participation in the elections. While slates simplify the process of voting, in the end, they diminish the voice of the student body. We expand on Elevate!’s platform of phasing out the slate system and propose that with the class of 2018, freshman class council officers should be elected individually—in effect, the new freshman class should be used as a first test of a slate-less model. Based on those results, over time SU should turn over its historic practice of slate elections.

With SU hopefully stepping into a more prominent role on campus, we hope to see several changes. First, more interesting and prominent speakers would greatly improve the quality level of the SU speaker series. Having the provost as a featured speaker, as is the case this year, isn’t going to draw a large crowd of students. Speakers that are brought in should be expanding the worldview of students, instead of someone with whom the general body is familiar.

Funding of student groups and activities should be more explicable—approaching Treasury should not feel like playing the lottery. By the end of the next academic year, we hope that most students will be familiar with the name and story of each member of SU exec. In order to foster a more active and involved student body, members of exec should be visible and active members of the community.

We congratulate Elevate! on its election and are eager to see what it will do in the coming year.

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