The spring USUAA elections are the political Mecca of the UAA community. Every year, USUAA presidential hopefuls rove around campus spewing inspirational language to secure votes and support for their campaign. Beware, because the things we want to see changed already have a bureaucratic process in place.
On April 8 and 9, UAA students will have the power to elect their peers into positions that influence their collegiate experience. With the ongoing process of prioritization, fee increases and the evolving UAA brand, it is vital that student representatives understand their roles. There is a bigger picture, and our issues are a mere puzzle piece.
The 1999 movie “Election,” starring Reese Witherspoon, is a pungent example of student government antics at its best. Witherspoon’s character, Tracy Flick, is whimsical and power-driven while struggling to garner the support of her classmates.
In a sense, this race has featured a lot of Tracy Flicks — students making promises while not knowing or having the resources to deliver. The propaganda and charades of the film correlate seamlessly with our current USUAA administrative candidates.
The platforms are unprogressive and dated. Zeroing in on what their predecessors did not complete is irrelevant. But how a candidate plans to progress and integrate his or her agenda into your tenure is. That is what a forward thinking leader does.
Transparency is a simple fix. USUAA meetings are advertised but not in an interactive way. USUAA, through the assistance of their adviser and administrative assistant, always has a presence during New Student Orientations, Campus Kick-Off and general resource fairs. So any candidate feeling that there is not enough outreach is sorely mistaken. The real issue is that the student leaders tasked with manning these booths are at times nowhere to be found. That is not to say that there isn’t an handful of active senators and club leaders that do not productively extend their time, though.
I don’t drive, but I am aware of the maze-like parking situation. Everyone is.
Parking is not a new issue on the UAA campus. As more and more buildings are being erected, there is an urgent need for garages. Student leaders meet with state legislators and usually work to secure the funding necessary for the completion of these projects on annual advocacy trips. Increasing student fees is another way to garner support for new projects. Subsequently, if you are looking for the secret cove of endless parking spaces anytime soon, you are out luck.
There is a lack of understanding of what the USUAA administration is tasked with doing. UAA students need to scrutinize any leader seeking to begin projects they cannot dictate or complete in a year’s time. The primary thing anyone you elect to USUAA can control is advocating to state legislators for more university system fiscal support.
For once, it would be nice to have a candidate who does not focus on what USUAA hasn’t done but what they are in the process of doing. Every time a student leader graduates, a legacy is left behind. The way to build traditions is through sustaining and evolving past leaders’ works. By starting over each year, student government loses traction on issues that matter most to the student body. This includes tuition increases.
Sometimes these elections remind me of HBO’s “The Wire.” At every corner there is a prospective student representative pedal-pushing some agenda. Would you take drugs from a stranger on the corner? I hope you would not. Remain skeptical and reluctant. Do not contribute to an environment that erases accountability.
UAA is a small community. It is easy to put personal bonds first.
I challenge students to put expectations before friendships. What you should be seeking is an advocate, not a soapbox entrepreneur.