Thoughts on ASUA, Driggs for president

Outreach and involvement. We need to reach out to students and let them know that student government exists. We need to get more students involved.

If the Arizona Daily Wildcat editorial board members had a quarter for every time they heard the words "outreach" and "involvement" during ASUA candidates' interviews, they would be able to do their laundry until the end of time.

The problem with UA student government is not that students do not know whether it exists ─ the problem lies in the fact that it is an inefficient system. The government is fractured into two houses, the Undergraduate Senate and the Graduate Professional Student Council, which spend more time vying for power than they do working for students. When the administration hears two different voices supposedly representing students, they are going to pay a lot less attention than if they hear one unified voice.

For the past couple of years, student government has failed to provide a cohesive voice and, even worse, has allowed itself to be co-opted by the administration. Did the ASUA Senate take a stand on departmental cuts? Nope. What did the ASUA Senate do about core curriculum? They voted unanimously to support core curriculum on the basis of speeches by an ASUA representative on the core curriculum committee and an administrator. Students don't care about the ASUA Senate because the Senate has failed time and again to take stands on tough issues. With the exception of a few individuals, the ASUA Senate has been content to rest on its laurels this year.

Students know that ASUA exists and ASUA representatives can have all their meetings on the Mall, office hours in front of Old Main and e-mail everyone this side of the Mississippi, but it won't get students more interested in student government. It is time for OUR representatives to start taking stands on issues that matter to students.

Anyway, with that said, now on to the Wildcat endorsements.

PRESIDENT─ Like the other two executive races, the presidential race features two qualified candidates both with impressive student government track records.

Ben Driggs, a Latin America studies/economics junior, has served as the UA director for the Arizona Students' Association for the past year. Among his accomplishments as ASA director ─ he led a student-voting registration drive that signed up more than 5,600 students, organized a state gubernatorial debate on campus and played a role in stopping the Arizona Legislature from implementing a plan that would have required students to pay additional fees if they went over a certain number of credit hours per semester. Besides being active in student government, he has volunteered as a Spanish interpreter at the University Medical Center and he has been active in campus honoraria.

Ethan Orr, a system engineering junior, has served as an undergraduate Senator for two years. He has been instrumental in getting a 20-watt antenna for KAMP radio and pushing to expand KAMP's reception to a three-to-five mile radius around campus. He has organized date rape forums, numerous forums where students met administrators and has been active in communicating with students through e-mail and getting their feedback on issues. He is also a resident assistant at Graham-Greenlee Residence Hall.

In this race, the Wildcat endorses BEN DRIGGS. Not only has Driggs proven he can deal with state legislators and the Arizona Board of Regents, but he has some bright ideas for the future. He wants to focus on improving career services at the university and go out into the Tucson community and push for more student internships and work positions. Driggs also has formulated a peer-advising program in which juniors and seniors could receive credit by counseling undergraduates, much like that already in place for molecular and cellular biology majors.

Orr has the best of intentions, but besides his KAMP plan, he offered very few specifics on changes he would like to see in the future. He said he would like to see ASUA shift its focus, making sure that the UA administration is more efficient and perhaps bringing outside experts to evaluate the administration. Good idea, but how is he going to enforce the program and more importantly, how will he get the administration to listen to student government? Orr has been a Senator for two years and has not yet taken a definitive stand for or against departmental cuts and shifted his stance on core curriculum after he voted along with the Senate to support it.

Driggs has a realistic vision of student government and the intelligence and know-how to back it up.

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