By Brett Fera
Editor in Chief
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, March 11, 2005
What is the purpose of the Arizona Daily Wildcat on the UA campus?
Is it to entertain, or is it to inform?
Is it to question, or is it to give students and campus personnel an opportunity to do the questioning?
The answers might be surprising: It's yes to each of those and many, many more.
But with those responsibilities comes the windfall often created by taking a stance on subject matter that may not be popular, even if it is justified.
Earlier this week with Associated Students of the University of Arizona presidential, vice presidential and senatorial elections chugging along at full steam, the Wildcat released its endorsements for all three executive positions as well as for a handful of senators.
We print endorsements because it is our job to inform our readers of information they wouldn't otherwise be privy to, such as the interview session we attempt to conduct with each candidate.
But as the saying goes, "the people have spoken," with letter after letter, inquiry after inquiry, pouring in questioning the board's motives as well as the tone of the words printed on the page.
On multiple occasions, readers said the board has, specifically with senatorial candidates, been unfairly harsh and demeaning toward "hard-working students who put countless hours" into their campaigns.
Without naming names - we've already done that once, and it appears our point was well taken - it's important to note that a question was posed to multiple candidates as to how much time they have actually put into their campaign to date.
"A few hours," was the candid answer of one candidate, to his credit. The lack of preparation was also obvious based on candidates' inability to answer questions like, "How do you plan to accomplish this task?" or "Does ASUA have the authority to influence this type of change on campus?" It seems some candidates wrote down ideas of things they wanted to see happen with no second thought of the feasibility or necessity on the UA campus.
The board has also been questioned for criticizing some candidates, who regardless of their ideas, "should be commended for simply wanting to run for office and dedicate their time."
However, the opposite logic should be applied.
We should regard the candidates' ideas highly, regardless of how great their desire to run for office.
Experience with ASUA elections is something this opinions board doesn't lack, as multiple members have been part of the board for at least three years' worth of elections. Year after year, candidates run on outrageous platforms that lack foresight and any knowledge of what ASUA's role on campus really is. Our negative endorsements were intended to send a message that something needed to change.
Should those who want to make the leap for public service be commended? Yes, but not without question.
Candidates could benefit from simply talking to current senators and asking them to compare where they are now to where they were when they released their initial platforms as candidates.
How many platforms have been completed? How many of those outrageous ideas actually came true?
Actually researching what is necessary and feasible on campus, even if just through simple conversations, is the most important aspect of running for an ASUA office.
To those who lost this year or to those who are considering running in the future: become a senate aid. Sit on a committee. Check the office hours of the president and vice presidents. President Alistair Chapman and Vice Presidents Jordan Miller and Sara Birnbaum surely would have been willing to dole out advice to anyone with questions.
We understand that many of the comments seemed abrasive, especially to the five candidates that we urged readers to be cautious of when voting.
But after years of candidates running for office on platforms that may be attractive on the surface yet lack the substance necessary to be carried out in one year, we felt it was time to speak up and say something.
Reader response to the Wildcat opinions board's ASUA endorsements, the Wildcat's ASUA elections coverage as a whole, and countless other stories and issues presented in the paper has been outstanding, and I encourage every reader to write to us at any point you feel the need for clarification, wish to oppose an opinion or frankly just have something you need to get off your chest.
Brett Fera is a journalism and communication senior. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.