By Ben Graff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
A former ASUA president speaks
Regardless of the type of relationship existing between ASUA and the Arizona Daily Wildcat, it is essential the Wildcat remain the strongest check and balance on the activities of the student government. The Wildcat's main purposes, in relation to ASUA, should include (1) following up with the promises made by student leaders and making sure they are accomplishing the goals they set forth in their campaigns, (2) making sure the current or new initiatives set forth by ASUA are what students really want or are in the best interests of the student body and (3) ensuring ASUA is listening to the students, rather than creating programs or initiatives only 13 elected officials feel are necessary or important.
There are things ASUA has done and can continue to do in order to maintain a professional and cordial relationship with the Wildcat. First, it is essential ASUA have an "open door" policy on everything they do for the students. This not only includes public senate meetings, but also allowing the Wildcat unfettered access to ASUA's budget, accounting procedures, strategic plans and etc. Because ASUA is accountable to the students, its interfunctions cannot be a mystery to either the students or the press. Second, ASUA officials, whether elected or appointed, must make themselves accessible to Wildcat reporters. The number one thing journalists need is information, and ASUA must strive to provide that information when it is needed in a timely fashion. Third, ASUA must strive to bring the news to the attention of the Wildcat through organized press releases, active updates through phone calls and emails, as well as occasional "heads up" briefings on upcoming events and issues that may become larger stories in the near future.
The Wildcat also has a responsibility to maintain a professional and effective relationship with ASUA. Wildcat reporters must first realize most stories about the UA should include the perspective of ASUA's student leadership. With the varied and diverse programs and services, connection to all clubs and organizations, and access to every committee and administrator on campus, there is an ASUA elected or appointed official with a valid viewpoint on almost every issue. I feel it is the responsibility of the Wildcat reporter to seek out the correct individual to make sure articles convey the viewpoint of student leaders, as well as administrators, Regents, community members, etc. Second, although the Wildcat should be both comfortable with their role to criticize ASUA and to push them toward serving the students in the best possible capacity, it is not always appropriate to ridicule and/or destroy student leaders just for the sake of satire. However, I want to make a strong note that this has not happened in a great deal of time and I have been very impressed with the Wildcat's ability to appropriately criticize and evaluate student leaders on legitimate issues. As public leaders, student leaders should anticipate that they will be criticized and evaluated for everything they do. Of course, if a student leader were abusing his/her position or ineffectively holding an office then it would be more than appropriate for the Wildcat to bring this to the attention of students through any journalistic means necessary.
Ben Graff is a second year law student at the James. E. Rogers College of Law. As an undergraduate, he served as ASUA president.