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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Guest column: Broken student government needs new kind of leadership

    The Associated Students of the University of Arizona, as an organization, is thirsty for new brands of leadership from the executive positions.

    In February, ASUA could only produce 12 senate candidates, one administrative vice presidential candidate, three presidential candidates and no executive vice president candidate for the primary election.

    There is clearly a problem with recruitment and leadership development, two very important pieces of any student organization. This problem has existed for years and is severely inhibiting the effectiveness of our work.

    One simply must look at the extraordinarily low turnout in our elections — only 3,213 votes in the primary election — to gain critical evidence of this point. We are obviously failing at promoting our efforts and inspiring student leaders from differing campus organizations to get involved.

    The nature of our student government, in its current operational structure, is exclusionary. Thus, there exists incredible resentment and bitterness toward the organization as a whole.

    What students and members of our student government need to realize though, is that ASUA has great potential to enact real change in the university system, but we need candidates who seek the office with respect and perception for the potential power that it can yield.

    We need leaders with practical ideas and a fundamental understanding of the higher education system in Arizona. We need professionals with proven passion and tangible experience in a similar role. Without this, the executives of ASUA will waste a crucial year of rebuilding.

    I began my work in ASUA with the Arizona Students’ Association as an advocacy intern in spring of 2012. I watched as our student body president spoke so eloquently and powerfully at the state capitol, earning the respect of state legislators.

    We organized, as a student body, coalitions and campaigns that significantly impacted the defeat of two bills that would have brought great harm to higher education in Arizona. While this administration was certainly not without flaws, the action above illustrates the professional capabilities that are imbedded within the office of ASUA president.

    These powers are delicate and easily broken. They can only be wielded adequately if ASUA is legitimized as a true political force on campus.

    Civility and ethical action are important in this process. Running campaigns that break the rules and disrespect the office for which we seek further drives a wedge between ASUA and the student body we endeavor to represent. Our leaders must be accountable to themselves and the student body for their actions.

    Our system of student governance is facing the ASA lawsuit and suffering from fractured student voices, causing enormous challenges that are shaking the foundation of the organization.

    This legislative session is proposing House bills like 2333 and 2169, which could severely damage the student voice in Arizona. The executive team and senate class need to operate as organizers of the student population and must inspire campus activism and utilize the power of its office with respect for the wishes of all students.

    Every presidential candidate, myself included, ran on a platform of striving to differentiate ourselves from the status quo. It is my sincerest hope that these platforms to the student body are not forgotten and that every Wildcat will benefit from the work of ASUA next year. However, this will certainly be an uphill battle.

    As upperclassmen, we are unlikely to see the changes that we have been thirsting for, but underclassmen have a responsibility to provide this change. You don’t need student government right now. Student government needs you.

    Build experience in areas that are of interest to you. Work for nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups and student groups that organize around your concerns. It is in these spaces where your talents and passions will truly be fostered, and your work will have greatest impact.

    Seek challenging opportunities that force you to craft an idea, and act upon it. When it comes time, run for office and utilize your valuable experiences to make positive impacts on this campus, and ensure that our student government is utilized to its fullest potential, representing all Wildcats on this campus.

    —Anthony Carli is a political science junior and former candidate for ASUA president. He can be reached at

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