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Editorial: ASUA 101

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 26, 2006
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Candidates should learn before they seek to lead

A week ago, the race for next year's student government began. There wasn't a parade and no champagne was poured, but the event ushered in another season of renewed excitement coupled with the idealism only student elections are capable of showcasing.

Along with new applications for all elected offices in the Associated Students of the University of Arizona office, the season brings with it a mix of grizzled veterans, minor scandals and wide-eyed applicants lacking a single student government hair on their chins.

All candidates will extol the virtue of service and promise to make students' lives better with an assorted set of promises. Sadly, the trend in ASUA is toward large and often unattainable campaign promises.

Some promises simply can't be tackled in a year, such as the oft-popular crusade for a fall break. Others, like making university meal plans available at eateries along East University Boulevard, demonstrate a youthful naiveté at best and a systemic ignorance of how the UA works at worst.

The stories of bungled campaign promises are humorous to some, while often horrific to the candidates themselves. Yet there is a simple solution to stopping bad platforms before they ever start: education.

"That service is the noblest which is rendered for its own sake."

-Mohandas Gandhi


The UA is a lumbering and complex animal, and ASUA occupies only a small sphere of the beast's existence. Wide-sweeping change is often impossible for student government representatives to implement because of ASUA's limited power and influence.

Current candidates would do well to talk to ASUA veterans like Erin Hertzog, executive vice president, or student senators Rhonda Tubbs and Ashley Eden. In a short time, any current officer can tell candidates that the limitations of the office serve not to stifle student power, but to refine it.

Taking the time to study what the student senate does, as well as the differences between the executive and administrative vice presidency posts, should be par for the course when running for office. However, candidates often have a fundamental misunderstanding of the positions, which only spells failure and frustration in future months.

Student energy can be directed to help programs like CatsRIDDE which starting in February will offer intoxicated students a safe ride home. Other options include extending the recently started laptop loan program.

There are many ways to impact and better students' lives, from giving input on the tuition setting process to helping campus clubs procure funding for events. Noticeably absent from the list are platforms like extending the Zona Zoo pass to cover entry into Icecats hockey games or putting a CatCard reader in every taxicab in Tucson.

Students can do much good and help their fellow students in many ways as members of ASUA. Yet perhaps the best way this new crop of candidates can help their fellow students is to take some time and research student government's purpose and powers.

With that newfound information, coupled with a healthy dose of research, candidates can plan feasible campaigns that will leave students with smiles instead of the commonplace shrugs and shouts that accompany the election calendar.

Opinions Board
Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Lori Foley, Caitlin Hall, Michael Huston, Ryan Johnson, Aaron Mackey, and Tim Runestad.

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