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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Editorial: The state of our students

    Not long ago, student government at the UA was a running joke. Dominated by petty politics and internal conflict, students had little respect for student government – and reflected it through dismal voter turnout and lackluster participation in student elections.

    Two moderately successful and competent administrations, however – the sensible tenure of Erin Hertzog and the dedicated efforts of current President Tommy Bruce – have gone far to reestablish the credibility of student government as a meaningful institution.

    The fact that the day-to-day operation of student government is no longer marred by impeachments, investigations and scandal offers a welcome opportunity to seriously consider the function and effectiveness of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. As elections season draws closer – paperwork for potential candidates is due next Monday in the ASUA office – we hope to see candidates interested in pragmatism, reform and hard work instead of politics as usual.

    It’s a long standing tradition for student government elections to unleash an avalanche of campaign platforms that range from mildly useful to downright inane. Besides perennial promises to extend university meal plans to off-campus eateries and slash the costs of textbooks for students (two planks that evince a fundamental confusion about the scope of ASUA’s power and the workings of our university), past candidates have made bizarre proposals that range from forging student political parties and forcing taxis to accept CatCards to throwing a big celebration on the UA Mall and printing a separate Spanish-language edition of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. Thanks to wacky ideas like these, the institution meant to articulate student opinion and make meaningful policy easily devolves into a competition to provide the best and most expensive services to students in exchange for votes.

    The result? After years of patron politics and one-off programs, ASUA has become dominated by a disparate collection of student services: SafeRide, Spring Fling, Pride Alliance, laptop loans, student legal services – the list goes on and on. It’s time to take a look at those programs and critically consider which ones benefit the student body and which ones are a waste of time. It’s also time to consider how well ASUA serves the students it claims to represent. The preamble to the organization’s constitution declares that ASUA was established “”in the belief that students have the right and the obligation to play a significant role in guiding their university.”” We think ASUA should be held to that ideal. ASUA can be more than another set of services – it could be a meaningful voice in campus policy discussions. But that won’t happen without pragmatic candidates interested in serious reform.

    Recent student leaders have restored our faith in the people who run ASUA. Now, we hope to see a candidate who will restore our faith in its function. Over the next few weeks, we’d like to see candidates interested in taking a serious, critical look at ASUA jump into the upcoming student government race. Otherwise, we’ll be getting ready for another season of preposterous promises.

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