SGA elections: politically weak

By on February 20, 2003

Do you know that over $500,000 of your tuition money is given to the Student Government Association (SGA) every year to spend on student organizations?

Are you aware that every executive board member of SGA is granted a $10,000 tuition stipend from the university for each year that they are elected?

Furthermore, if you had to name two of the five executive officers, could you?

Chances are that the vast majority of our student body is unaware of the amount of responsibility shouldered by our SGA, and because of this, your money and your voice are perhaps not always used in ways that best reflect the interests of our students.

By becoming more informed, we are on the right track to utilizing this power more effectively so that our voices are heard, our opinions are represented and our student rights are defended.

Who we elect in March is an important decision that needs to be taken seriously by the students, the administration and most importantly – the candidates.

Because I am on Student Government, I think that it is important for our students here to be informed about the basic issues before voting in March’s election.

Unfortunately, I know that there are some prominent members of SGA that do not share this sentiment and would probably rather go through another year of elections centered on cheesy posters and tee shirts, foregoing a discussion of the issues.

Off the record, some of these members will admit that appealing to the “simple student” is the easiest tactic, and that issue campaigns rarely garner victories.

So, if this is true, then I pose this challenge to every student government candidate: campaign on substantive matters, not a witty combination of your last name and a sneaker or soda that rhymes with it.

If we all campaign on the issues, there will be no room for candidates who would otherwise exploit the student body by basing voting on slogans. I think we can all agree that the students here are more intelligent and should expect more from their leaders than has already been established.

There are colleges in this country where students have an enormous influence on every policy that is passed, every grade that is given and every test that is assigned. At other universities, student governments are 100 percent committed to fighting for student rights and insist on accountability from the administration.

At Quinnipiac, we pay a very high tuition, have a well-funded student government and accessible administrators, yet still we are unable to assert ourselves articulately because we lack a clear focus.

Collectively, by electing a student government that is serious about the issues, we can speak up and make changes and insist on having more decision-making power at all levels of university life.

So, when March rolls around, and $500,000 of your money, student rights, residence hall policies, parking problems and basic quality of life issues all hang in the balance, will you “Vote Joe Right because it rhymes with Sprite,” or will you look at the issues and vote like intelligent, maturing adults?

I hope you will seriously consider the issues and questions that are important to you before casting your ballot. Better yet, if you are tired of letting someone else run the show for you, pick up a few forms and get yourself on the ballot: after all, the more diversity we have, the better off we will be next year.


About Tom Hyde