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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    GUEST LETTER: Thoughts from an incoming ASUA senator

    Caitlin Claypool

    The Associated Students of the University of Arizona logo painted across the wall at the ASUA office in the Student Union Memorial Center.

    Recently, an article was published by the Daily Wildcat critiquing Associated Students of the University of Arizona. As an incoming senator, I was deeply unsettled by the backlash the author, Kristijan Barnjak, received on social media from the current ASUA class. I’ve always believed that the freedom of press is the backbone of any government, student or otherwise. 

    If there was disagreement with the factual substance of the article then that would be a worthy discussion, but the criticism I have seen from members of ASUA largely pointed out positive changes they have made that they believe that he should have included. I find it telling that the only people pointing out the positive changes ASUA has made this year are members of ASUA. 

    This isn’t a coincidence; it is because they are the only people who can. It’s a sign that no real impact has been made on the student body. I’m reminded of the common adage, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, did it even make a sound?” We can spend all day talking about positive things that ASUA believes they have done, but that isn’t the point. Our job is to represent the student body, and if what ASUA has accomplished this year wasn’t even enough to “make a sound,” then we haven’t done enough. 

    I point this out not to conduct a “witch hunt” on the Noah Vega administration, as one Twitter user put it. I say this so that the next ASUA class can learn from the mistakes of our predecessors and do more for the student body. 

    RELATED: A lackluster year for UA student government

    There are reasons why ASUA had a lackluster year, the primary one being the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that is an explanation, not an excuse, and making excuses won’t solve any of the problems facing the student body. The only thing that will solve them is listening when we are criticized so that we can make real change that impacts the student body. 

    As members of ASUA, if we’re not being challenged and held accountable for our mistakes, how are we supposed to improve? One of the lessons that can be taken from this experience is that not enough has been done to cultivate a relationship between the Daily Wildcat and ASUA. If we want the Daily Wildcat to promote the programs and resources we offer to the student body, then we should work with them, not against them, to make sure the student body is aware of our services. However, this kind of communication is a two-way street, and the responsibility rests on ASUA to reach out to the Daily Wildcat and ask them to help promote these services, not the other way around.  

    This upcoming year, every single member of ASUA, with the exception of one senator, will be new. Let’s take this opportunity to change the way ASUA conducts themselves and do everything we can to represent the student body. Part of that is going to be opening ourselves up to criticism. I wasn’t elected to represent ASUA. I was elected by the student body, to represent the student body, and that is exactly what I intend to do. 

    I hope that the Daily Wildcat will hold me to the same rigorous standards as the previous class and point out my mistakes so that I can grow and represent the student body to the best of my ability. I highly encourage my fellow senators to do the same. Throughout my term, if there is something you believe ASUA can do to improve your experience at the university, tell us. Once I am sworn in, I’ll be hosting office hours every week, and I encourage anyone who reads this to stop by and criticize me, because I promise that I will listen.

    *Amy Gaudet is an incoming ASUA senator for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

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