Ready to lead

The managing board endorses Ross, West and Miller for president, VPO and VPA

The race for Student Council president is, for the second year in a row, uncontested. Third-year Engineering student Jalen Ross will be the only candidate on the ballot. Ross, a StudCo veteran, ran against Neil Branch last year for the position of vice president for organizations and received the last managing board’s endorsement for that position.

Though Ross was not elected, he went on to serve as director of university relations on the executive board. His experience in the organization, as well as his goals for the coming term — like establishing a Student Council ambassadors program, uniting all of the members of Student Council and involving students in solving the problems that directly affect them — make us confident that he will do well as president.

This year’s race for vice president for organizations is also uncontested. Second-year College student Kyle West, the sole candidate, may not have as much experience, but is qualified for the position. Having served on the appropriations committee, he understands the complex process of allocating a limited amount of funds to a growing number of CIOs, and has a number of ideas to help organizations deal with the problem of scarce funding. A system of record-keeping, rewarding CIOs who consistently submit good budgets and helping CIOs be self-sustainable are all ideas that West proposed.

Third-year College student Sky Miller, one of two candidates for vice president for administration, gets our endorsement for the position. He was the only one to schedule an endorsement interview with us, which indicates his commitment to reaching out to other organizations and making his voice and his platform heard. It also perhaps indicates his opponent’s lack of engagement. Miller demonstrated in his interview that he has an excellent understanding of what the VPA job entails, and how the VPA works with the president and the VPO, making us confident he is fully prepared to take on the role.

From what we know about both candidates’ platforms and planned initiatives, Miller is the better choice. One of Miller’s initiatives would be to change Student Council’s meeting structure, turning it into a town hall format so that students would be more encouraged to propose ideas and give feedback, and would be more informed about Student Council’s ongoing projects and initiatives. This is an important change to remedy the disconnect between Student Council and the rest of the student body. To this effect, Miller also has proposed requiring all of the Student Council committees put together reports throughout the year, so that the student body would be constantly updated on their progress.

Finally, we pause for a moment to consider the larger consequences of the uncontested races. Though Ross and West are qualified for the positions, a lack of competition could result in a larger problem — a lack of participation of the student body in general. Only about 40 percent of the student body voted last year. The reason for the low rate of participation could be the numerous amount of uncontested races, but the causality could be reversed. A general lack of interest from the student body could dissuade people from running for a position of leadership. The position is devalued if a majority of students do not actually care who their leaders are.

In addition, there are only six candidates running for eight Student Council College representatives. Of those six only one interviewed with us. For this reason, the managing board cannot make an endorsement for Student Council College representatives, as we had planned.

Both Ross and Miller said that the lack of interest in leadership is a problem. Uncontested elections won’t necessarily dissolve student self-governance, but more competition would optimize the system. Thankfully, the two aforementioned candidates also talked about plans to get more people involved in student leadership: outreach and recruitment through transparency, as well as improving the logistical system of student elections. We should feel reassured that these three candidates are all focused on improvement. There is always something that can be done better, and they will surely find it.

Published February 21, 2014 in Opinion

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