Is there a right way to run USA?

“Transparency” has been a buzzword in the Undergraduate Student Association Executive Board elections since even before the seniors took to the tunnels of Canisius College. Even in her statement as to why she should be Vice President for Student Organizations, freshman Christina Kolbmann mentioned it. Approachability made itself a hallmark of Executive Vice Presidential candidate Tim Utz’s remarks, as well as the comments of those participating in the presidential debate between rising seniors Elias “Fenoose” Ayoub and Conor Toomb. The question of making Senators more approachable arose three times throughout the evening. Other ideas bounced around throughout the rest of the candidates’ statements, including those more concrete from candidates whose platforms are likely to be implemented, such as the uncontested Vice President for Marketing and Public Relations Gina Trippe and Vice President of Programming Kate Anticoli. Every candidate had a lens through which they viewed the Undergraduate Student Association–and likely student government in general–and it was clear in the ways that they spoke about it.

The real question that this paper proposes: is there a wrong way to run student government?

Student apathy and attendance at events is at an all-time low. EVP candidate Dilpreet Kaur said from abroad that one of her objectives is to decrease student apathy, and Anticoli mentioned that she would like to see more cooperation between clubs to increase attendance at events. These are both difficult, though hopefully not unsurmountable, tasks that student government (and student organizations in general) have to face. This year, the Undergraduate Student Association saw apathy firsthand in the apparent revolt against the Griffin statue, quelled by explanation even though information had been sent out repeatedly in order to explain the project for several weeks.

This paper has lauded many of USA’s projects over the course of the year, and it’s been interesting to see the directions that both the vision of President Rich Kubiak and of the Senate as a whole have taken. However, would the productivity of our student government be much lower under the leadership of a different Executive Board? Not necessarily better or worse but lower? Would students respond to USA as an entity differently under an alternative Executive Board? Is student apathy so high regarding what ideology is in office that it doesn’t matter to them which officers are in place?

Executive Board elections are important; this paper won’t contest that. In fact, it insists, but it’s interesting to hear the ways in which candidates answer questions about Senate and their intentions for USA as a whole. It’s even more curious to see what questions other students will ask of them. Last night, the presidential candidates were asked about the shuttle service, which does not necessarily fall under USA. Another asked about how Ayoub and Toomb would respectively approach administration on controversial issues. However, the debate as a whole didn’t have many students in attendance. This may certainly be in part because of Campus Ministry’s Raise Benefit for international service trips, but otherwise, there wasn’t a huge outpouring of support for the Executive Board candidates. It will certainly be informative to know how many students will actually vote in the year’s elections and whether or not any momentum will be built for Senate elections later on in the semester.

The dynamic of the Executive Board is one that is incredibly important for the future of the Undergraduate Student Association. This paper does not think that student apathy is insurmountable as a problem; students can begin to care (this is why we deliver papers door-to-door on main campus every Friday morning). It may not be an easy problem, and it is one that every candidate could face if elected. However, there is not necessarily a “perfect” ideology amidst the candidates seen yesterday at the debate, but there have been good solutions and approaches presented.

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