ASUA remains a mystery for many students

By Anthony D. Ávila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, March 8, 2005

Though Associated Students of the University of Arizona general elections begin today, many students are unsure of what each office entails.

Adam Falck, ASUA elections commissioner, said ASUA took action to inform students about the role of their student leaders on campus, but students being uninformed is still a problem.

When Falck spoke at a multicultural students meeting this year, many students did not know the specific function of ASUA and others did not even know what it was.


Being the spokesperson for 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students is not easy, said Alistair Chapman, ASUA president.

The most difficult aspect of being the president is being a productive member and a strong voice on the 20 or more committees on which the president sits, and not being intimidated by senior officials, Chapman said.

"At many of these meetings, you will be the lone student representative," Chapman said about the next ASUA president. "You need to understand the issues and always fight for the students."

The president is also the chief financial officer who oversees the more than $1 million ASUA budget, he said.

Chapman said it is important to utilize the weekends to keep up with tasks and said he spends 70 to 100 hours a week on official duties.

Executive Vp

The executive vice president is in the chair of the ASUA Senate and also oversees the appropriations board, which approves how much funding each club will get, said Sara Birnbaum, ASUA executive vice president.

The most difficult aspect of managing the 540 clubs on campus is there is such a wide diversity of needs, Birnbaum said.

Birnbaum, who chairs the senate meetings every Wednesday at 5 p.m., said balancing how to help the senators in the best possible way, can be difficult.

"Part of my job is that I'm responsible for the 10 senators, but I'm not their boss," Birnbaum said. "It's hard not to step in and help when you want to, but really I just have to be there when they need me."

Administrative Vp

The administrative vice president oversees the 14 programs and services under ASUA, such as SafeRide, the class councils and Bear Down Camp, said Jordan Miller, ASUA administrative vice president.

The directors of all the programs are so involved with all their responsibilities, it takes someone from the outside to see the big picture and what is the most feasible, Miller said.

Miller said her position requires working with people and a lot of public relations.

The administrative vice presidency demands both experience in program management and skills working with people, but candidates who have strength in one or the other does not necessarily put them above the rest.

"I definitely think there is a learning curve that goes into (the position)," Miller said.


Ben Graff, non-voting student regent and former ASUA president, executive vice president and senator all between 1998 to 2001, said the senatorial position is one of the best because a senator is not bound by all the things a president or vice president has to do.

"A senator can create his or her own position," Graff said. "They can redefine themselves as the senator who advocates for greener grass on campus, for example, or for child care on campus, if that's what they want."

Historically, ASUA senators have made some of the most groundbreaking changes and services on campus, Graff said.

The UA Main Library is open 24 hours a day as a direct result of Mary Peterson, former ASUA senator who lobbied for the change in 1997 and 1998.

Gilbert Davidson, current city manager of Willcox, said he was an ASUA senator from 1995 to 1997 who spearheaded the construction of a new student union.

Davidson said the senators who will be elected to ASUA next year as well as those elected to the other positions need to make sure they are influential in deciding who will replace Likins when he retires.