ASUA Candidates who can help
At this flash point of student disillusionment with ASUA, candidates are advocating profound changes to the way student government here is run. Candidates across the board are agreeing that ASUA's finger has strayed far from the pulse of student concerns and they are pushing or throwing their support behind proposals targeting this problem.
From a plan that would re-district the campus and make senators accountable for each cross section to a proposal that ASUA give its resolutions some teeth and point by surveying students before voting, candidates are talking the talk.
But can they walk the walk when it comes time? This is the question that most preoccupied the Opinions Board. Whether it is restructuring the Senate, wrestling with child care concerns or tangling with the perennial bear of Parking and Transportation, every year the campus hears campaign talk.
The Opinions Board during endorsement interviews sought to distinguish between talkers and doers (and the few who simply haven't a clue) during interviews with the candidates for office. Sometimes it was close. Usually it was clear. What was most important were bright ideas, determination and a plan. What follows are the pick of the litter.
ASUA needs a president who is unafraid to advocate solid plans rather than the usual trite platitudes and someone who has done the research, if any, of the reforms being proposed make it beyond the promise stage.
Candidate Cisco Aguilar is the clear stand-out in this regard.
While both candidates, Caitlein Ryan and Aguilar, have proven leadership experience, Aguilar has the preponderance of solid ideas and research on his side.
He has researched the feasibility of renegotiating the ASUA bookstore contract to deflate textbook prices. What's most notable about that is his commitment to cutting subsidies to ASUA to make this plan possible. He also wants to start a low cost computer lease program for students.
Aguilar has a formidable compilation of data on amending the ASUA constitution and a clear vision for reform at a time when the ASUA Constitutional Convention is fast-looming and clear leadership is needed. Aguilar is a leading supporter of a plan to carve the campus into cross sections and have senators allotted to each segment and give voice to their constituency. This reform is supported by most of the candidates.
He also promotes a plan to draw non-ASUA students into policy-making meetings with administrators.
Aguilar has done the extensive homework necessary to leading ASUA through a reform process and he has the courage to formulate solid ideas and stand by them.
The uncontested seats: Executive and administrative vice presidents
What can be said about the two uncontested non-races crying for better competition not forthcoming? It's a great, great shame.
There is hope, though, at least for the executive vice presidency, if Ben Graff pushes through his Penn State Pulse Plan.
The plan would spare the campus from the indignities of off-the-cuff, laughable Senate resolutions passed without support of the students, exemplified at its most ridiculous by the cartoon condemnations this fall.
Graff has pledged himself to introducing an ASUA constitutional bylaw that would have senators step out of their offices and amidst the students with surveys and polls to see if the resolutions they are contemplating truly reflect the attitude of the student body. Besides giving teeth back to Senate resolutions, the plan would do much to put ASUA officials back in touch with students, and, at very least, make them earn their stipends.
The plan has the support of an overwhelming majority of ASUA candidates and the campus should hold Graff to his good idea.
Brogan supports redistricting ASUA to better represent the cross sections of students across campus. He also wants to more equitably distribute ASUA money by encouraging clubs who have yet to seek money to apply so that the bulk of funds aren't split just by the traditionally persistent groups. He also proposes to hold forums between student representatives and Tucson city officials to iron out issues between the university and city.
In interviews Brogan shows the measured determination needed to see his plans through.
Dobbs has strong plans for increasing ASUA accountability, including 20 percent pay cuts for senators who miss meetings. He would like to consolidate ASUA to save more money by eliminating its less useful functions such as media relations.
He would also like to install e-mail-only terminals inside the entrance to heavily-used buildings on campus and he's already armed with price estimates and a test plan.
Dobbs, on his second try at the Senate, shows he has the stamina, the determination and the ideas.
Maloney is targeting the ASUA accessibility issue with plans to hold Senate meetings once a month on the Mall and his office hours outside the ASUA tower. He also promises to continue the student I.N.P.U.T. forum, begun by Sen. Ben Graff this year, to assay student opinions and concerns.
Sam A. McConnell IV
McConnell promises to promote more student involvement in university policy-making, particularly securing student say in what will go in the new student union. He leans toward the Senate restructuring plan but is sensitive to the need to survey students before acting on this radical reform.
In interviews, McConnell is distinguished by his level-headed realism and his concern for assessing and understanding student concerns.
Podbielski's most compelling platform issue is targeting advising to maximize student retention rates. She sees separate major and general education advisors as a problem to address. Her platform also calls for increasing ASUA accountability and accessibility via such mechanisms as meetings on the Mall and concentrating lobbying efforts against parking and transportation services.
In interviews, Podbielski shows the energy and enthusiasm needed to push her promises through.
Along with increasing the visibility and accountability of ASUA, Quintero promotes Senate restructuring and expansion to cover a broader span of the student body. He looks to incorporate a greater number of senators who represent every division of student life. Quintero says he hopes this will increase overall involvement and boost communication between ASUA and student organizations.