Do you hear that? It’s the sound of our frantically typing fingers, energized by hopes that this year will be one in which the Associated Students of the University of Arizona impresses.
Each year, the Daily Wildcat editorial board weighs in on which ASUA candidates we think will best represent student interests. This year, we evaluated candidates by the platforms they laid out on the ASUA website and elsewhere, and by their performances at the debates.
ASUA is supposed to represent the student body. Members usually throw a nice Spring Fling and call it a year, but they promise to bring our concerns to the state Legislature, work to make our tuition steady and oversee the many clubs and organizations on campus.
In making these endorsements, we identify who we think will best serve the campus and strive to make tangible differences in the lives of students. If we’re lucky, the difference they make will be so grand, students will actually learn what ASUA means.
ASUA President: Taylor Ashton
Taylor Ashton’s platform doesn’t include anything campus-shattering, but that’s actually OK. Fantastical, unrealistic plans are often a warning sign that a candidate has no idea what’s feasible and what’s not.
A committee for tuition clarity is a strong idea that will more than likely come to fruition if he’s elected. And if students actually take the time to follow the investigation and care, we could potentially see changes in how our precious money is spent. Then there’s this second part of his plan, where Ashton will apparently ensure the committee’s findings get a full-page spread in some newspaper called the Daily Wildcat … Hey, wait a minute. An investigation into how money is being spent at the university is right up our alley, but we’re an independent newspaper — not an ASUA newsletter. That said, it would be nice to see ASUA take the lead in holding the administration accountable for where our tuition goes once it’s left our pockets.
Expanding resources that already exist on campus is another surefire way for Ashton to accomplish his objectives. Adding ASUA and the Wildcat Events Board to the already available calendars on the Arizona Mobile App, broadening access to syllabi before registration and promoting our neglected assets like Smartplanner and TCE — these are all currently halfway realized, and wholly attainable with a push from Ashton.
Other ideas, like parking violation allowances, will take some more doing. They sound cool enough, but unless he has Parking and Transportation Services in his pocket, it’s not going to happen overnight.
And yes, Ashton still clings to those candidate-favorite buzzwords — collaboration, accountability and diversity — but he’s better than his opponent at delineating how those broad terms can be realistically manifested in a campus setting. Posting office hours complete with walk-ins is an admirable first step Ashton could take to give ASUA a name, a face and a handshake.
Lastly, Ashton has confidence, and the resumé to back it up. As Chief of Staff for current ASUA President Morgan Abraham, he’s already met the head honchos at the UA and is clearly comfortable expressing himself on the spot. It’s worth remembering that the next ASUA president will be representing students and student interests in front of the Arizona Board of Regents, President Ann Weaver Hart and even bigger wigs. Ashton may come off as the typical politician at times, but there’s no question he keeps his cool under pressure.
Ashton, you’ve got our endorsement, and if you do win, we’ll be calling you now and then to ask what’s up — but don’t think that makes us best friends. We’re the fourth estate, not the third.
Executive Vice President: Jordan Allison
Jordan Allison was a Daily Wildcat employee last semester, though she never completed the probationary period. Although her time here may not have left the best taste in our mouths, Allison has a firmer grasp on her platforms than her opponent does.
Allison has a solid list of ideas about how to improve club organization by streamlining registration and renewal. She also wants to make the Club Resource Center a more active, engaging space with advocates who have been trained to know what they’re doing. Holding training for club advocates each semester is yet another achievable goal that shows Allison’s done her homework.
She’s also passionate about her efforts to retain first-generation students by spreading the word about programs like TRiO. It’s a praiseworthy goal, and as a first-generation student herself, Allison understands how the university community could be doing a better job of reaching out. It all sounds good, but we’d like to see this goal become as fleshed-out as her plans for improving club resources.
There is one thing in her plan that makes us cringe: Her goal to define the relationship between Greek Life and ASUA. Yes, there does need to be a definition … but one clarifying where Greek Life ends and ASUA begins. ASUA’s goal should be to better serve the entire university, not just chapters.
Ultimately, we do believe Allison is the better candidate for the job, and we were impressed by the thought that went into many of her ideas.
Administrative Vice President: Daniel Douglas
Daniel Douglas really has one thing going for him: the passion of a happy camper. He may have this race easy since he runs unopposed, but Douglas still leaves us wanting more.
The politics, philosophy, economics and law sophomore clearly cares about his goal of seeing Bear Down Camp, a preparatory camp for incoming freshmen, expand to two sessions a year. Douglas realizes that with the way the camp is run now, space is becoming limited, and he’s trying to deal with the issue before the camp hits capacity. Between that initiative and his hopes to find a way to eliminate scheduling conflicts between Greek Life and the camp, Douglas exhibits care for future Wildcats — but what about current students?
Part two of Douglas’s plan is extending the reach of the ASUA newsletter. Sure, he could showcase the newsletter during orientation, trying to entice freshmen … or he could just use this cool new thing called a Listserv, which could reach the entire student body. It’s commendable to want to spread the word about our student government with tables on the UA Mall, but it’s also a little disconcerting to think he might not realize the power of the Internet.
At the debate, when asked what he would want to focus on outside of his limited platforms, Douglas declared he wants to expand the budgets of Feminists Organized to Resist, Create, and Empower and ASUA Pride Alliance. This is the direction Douglas should take. While focusing on students who just arrived is one of Douglas’ responsibilities, his larger priority should be caring for our already-active minority student populations. It’ll ultimately affect more of our student body.
A worryingly high percentage of candidates don’t even have their platforms posted on the ASUA site, just their headshots. Kenneth Cox, Jack Emery, Robert Nelson, Jake Roark, Joey Steigerwald, Nicholas Welchert, Joshua Wexler … they’re handsome enough fellas, but voters need a little more to go on, and all that white space doesn’t exactly scream “accountability.”
Dunn’s plan to bring a Farmer’s Market onto campus, and keep it going strong is probably the best-outlined vision of anyone running for any position. Dunn wants to build our relationship with the Tucson community and already knows to look to the farmer’s market by the University of Arizona Medical Center for collaboration and inspiration. Throw in plans to engage student organizations like Students for Sustainability and follow-through options for after the market is established, and Dunn has a viable plan that we’d be excited to see realized. Plus, she has an angle that we can get behind: She’s big on sustainability, which is already a huge initiative for campus bureaucrats, and she seems pretty straightforward about what exactly we can expect from her.
Gold has the advantage of being an incumbent, meaning she now has a better understanding of how the senate works. All her platforms are both appealing to students and reasonable. Rec classes for academic credit? Neat — a great way to keep students simultaneously active and on track to graduate. Alternative winter breaks? Being able to travel around the country and make a difference twice a year accentuates the university’s commitment to service. Teacher Course Evaluations that are more like Rate My Professor? We’ve wanted this forever. And Ashton’s plan to hand out syllabi early would only be aided by a site that told students what the workload was really like and how to realistically manage their expectations, independent of a list of curated assignments on stark white paper.
We like that Serack wants to reach out to students and let them know what ASUA’s doing and how. An ASUA Senate-specific newsletter could do a lot of good, and her idea of monthly dinners for students with the movers and shakers of ASUA would offer that extra level of accessibility we’ve come to want.
Diversity programs could play a key role in helping minority students feel safe and comfortable on campus, and targeting Greek Life might lower the frequency of racist or sexist ragers from weekly to — dare we dream — bi-monthly.
On the other hand, though it would be awesome to know how much we could expect to get for our bookstore sell-backs, we don’t believe the University is pure-intentioned enough to agree to a student-only system for book exchange. At least, not without a 2.5 percent convenience fee. It would just be too many pennies down the drain.
But to finish on a positive, who doesn’t love the idea of Food Truck Thursdays? More business for Tucson vendors, less Panda Express for us. Yummy.
You can cast your “ballot” on the ASUA site, elections.asua.arizona.edu until 8 pm. tonight.
Endorsements for ASUA candidates are determined by the Daily Wildcat editorial board. They are Sarah Precup, Joey Fisher, Katelyn Kennon and David W. Mariotte. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @DailyWildcat.