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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ASUA Senate candidates remain shiny – and vapid

No one is claiming that tomorrow’s Associated Students of the University of Arizona general elections bear any considerable weight on the minds of most of the more than 40,000 students the organization claims to represent. Most of us don’t care about this a fraction of the amount we care about Nic Wise’s game-winning buzzer beater. It would be nothing short of astonishing if the voter turnout was anywhere near the 14,545 people it takes to fill McKale Center. But our general apathy should not allow unqualified, inexperienced students to claim the 10 ASUA Senate seats and over $1 million budget of the largest representative body at the UA.

These 10 elected officials will be making decisions regarding clubs, fees and drafting referendums on topics as controversial as gun laws. These decisions will serve as the decisions of all students. When the administration says they have “”talked to the students,”” they have consulted our representatives in ASUA. So before you log onto Facebook instead of voting or cast your ballot for that one chick who came by your fraternity house, take a moment to consider what these candidates know about representing the larger student body and why they are being elected.

A few disconcerting common themes in the candidates’ platforms include wanting to “”create”” programs the UA already has, wanting to take on problems that are the responsibility of the Arizona Board of Regents and the UA administration, promoting initiatives in which students have shown no interest and displaying a general lack of knowledge as to what a representative should do.

The top finisher, Garrett Voge, based his campaign on three areas that have almost nothing to do with current students. He want to improve Tucson’s downtown, which he says in his platform is “”unsafe, outdated and in need of a facelift.”” While that may be true, urban renewal is hardly what an ASUA senator is elected for or had jurisdiction to change. Voge would also like to help students clean up the parks and to be good role models for children. While these are all cute ideas, senators are elected to gather the opinion and promote the interests of current UA students, not use those students as manpower to paint murals in downtown. Nowhere in Voge’s platform is any mention of the ways in which he will glean the opinions of the students or promote their needs.

Second-place finisher Taylor Bilby would like to organize a concert that would “”motivate the entire student body to fight as one for a cure for cancer.”” While that’s a noble enough goal, the UA already has the Wildcat World Fair and various programs that raise money for cancer research, including CATwalk. Any student who has been here for longer than eight months knows ASUA’s track record with concerts and why they might not be such a great campaign point. The problem here is that Bilby, and most of her fellow candidates, haven’t been here long enough to know about the $1 million loss at last year’s Last Smash Platinum Fail – they’re too young and inexperienced to accurately represent the students of this university. Bilby and her fellow candidates are certainly a nice, smart people. They also have no idea what their constituents want or need.

If we could all hold hands and sing about lowering student fees, an accurate and effective representative body and a cure for cancer, then the current field of candidates would be, like, totally perfect. But as reality still plagues UA students and occasionally ASUA, we need senators that will endeavor to gather student opinion and create programs as their constituents show interest. The above are only two examples of some of the utterly absurd proposals of senate candidates.

Many mentioned increasing diversity of incoming freshman and improving freshman retention rates, problems that only UA administration and ABOR are responsible for. If ASUA was not already puppet enough, promoting such programs places the concerns of the administration and the state of Arizona above those of current UA students.

Late Friday afternoon, five of the top six primary finishers were on the UA Mall, wearing little clothing and bearing signs reading, “”I’d rather be naked than not be the change I wish to see.”” This is undoubtedly an allusion to the famous Gandhi quote, “”Be the change you wish to see in world,”” paired with an awkward homage to the PETA ads about wearing fur. Senate elections are not about Best Legs, Most Popular, or Most Nonsensical Poster Slogan. The fact that most of the 2010-11 senators campaigned on issues students don’t care about and appeared practically naked on the Mall is much too revealing — both of candidates’ bodies, professionalism and grasp of what senators do beyond wearing red polos on Wednesdays.

The candidates for president and executive vice president are the shining hope of these elections. Though many senate candidates threw around “”transparency”” like a cheer captain’s pompoms, executive vice president candidate Katherine Weingartner was one of the few who plans to do anything about student governmental accountability. Though both Weingartner and presidential candidate Emily Fritze are running unopposed for their offices, the two are well-spoken, capable candidates who seem committed to dealing with issues students actually care about. Senate candidates take note: We don’t care about condom fashion shows and film festivals. We care about smart, capable candidates who know what they can and should do for the students of this university — represent them.

— Anna Swenson is a sophomore majoring in English. She welcomes your agreements and rebuttals at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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