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Commentary: Put the U' in ASUA

By Jason Poreda
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Monday August 25, 2003

Every August, the UA gears up for the start of a new year. We welcome new freshmen eager to begin their college careers, easily distinguished by their confused looks and trendy new outfits, and ready to make an impression unlike the upperclassmen whose attire consists mostly of whatever was closest to them as they crawled out of bed.

The first few weeks are the same every year: Everyone moves in ready to re-establish friendships and find new ones. Spirits are high and there is a general attitude of "I can do anything!" and "It can be done!" It's a unique quality that spreads to anyone who walks on the Mall, marveling at the beautiful weather and wondering who came up with the idea of UA butt shorts.

That includes those students ambitious enough to join student government, students who start each year planning to make a difference. Each new ASUA president promises a new beginning and a new ASUA. President J.P. Benedict is no different.

During an election resembling the 2000 national presidential election, minus the hanging chads, Benedict promised to create "more spirit, pride and tradition within ASUA," a promise made by many past incoming presidents. As a former ASUA senator, I can speak for the high expectations ASUA officers have every year. And as they all made a wide range of promises during the heated campaign, this year seems the same.

We'll see how many of these ideas get off the ground. Unfortunately, once the ball starts rolling, it rarely settles where it was aimed. And with a small budget and more cuts to come, ASUA's goals may grow even more distant.

To kick off the year, the organization is inviting Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers to Cat Fest. The local band may not be a big name likely to draw large crowds, but it's a nice gesture to reach out to the local community, and one that should cut costs.

At the same time, ASUA missed an opportunity right in front of it: It could have welcomed students back to campus AND back to the newly refurbished Mall. Instead, Cat Fest will again be held in Centennial Hall.

Imagine walking onto campus only to discover a great band playing on the Mall that spent the last two years consumed by construction. During those years, complaints and criticisms rang from every corner of campus. And someone even ran for ASUA president with only one promise: To get grass back on the Mall. That was a missed opportunity.

Cat Fest takes place on Aug. 29. If President Benedict is serious about his promises of increasing tradition and spirit, then ASUA needs to show the student body what it can do. It's only the beginning of the year, but there's no better time than the present to prove to students they made the right choice during the elections. With a new spirit director in place, a new safety advisory council, its second freshman class council and a positive attitude, ASUA is poised to have a great year.

Our student leaders have been dealt a full house; now they must bet big and win the hand. Students who have been here for many years can tell stories of promises resulting in failure and disappointment. The challenge now is for ASUA to honor its word.

With that in mind, to aim the crosshairs solely at ASUA would be unfair. It holds a big key in making this campus a better place, but the greatest responsibility is in the hands of the students themselves. Students need to let ASUA know what it's doing right and what it's not. Without that feedback, ASUA won't be able to govern effectively, and it's unfair for us to expect it to.

As everyone goes about their daily business of finding classrooms, buying books and locating parties on Friday and Saturday nights, remember: Make your voice heard. Make the student government work for you instead of without you. Help ASUA live up to your expectations.

Jason Poreda is a political science and communication senior. He can be reached at

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