Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
To the students of this university:
You haven't been listened to. You haven't been reached out to enough. Your input hasn't been valued by previous Student Government Association administrations. All of this will change.
I decided to run for president this year not as an individual, but as a representative of the student body as a whole. After talking with a host of students around the campus, my thought was the SGA was out of touch and not listening to its constituents. There needed to be some revolutionary change implemented, and we could not trust the same members of the SGA again and again, year after year, with that task.
The required change to improve our clubs, campus and community would have to be directed at what has been inhibiting the SGA from performing its designated task of representing the students and allowing campus life to be enjoyable for all. To start with these structural issues that have been hindering student life was the goal I saw ahead. After all, it is an arduous task to represent the students and legislate on the issues when the SGA does not have the capacity and the solid relationships to truly listen and hear the voice of the students.
A lack of outreach and engagement, isolation, an inability to listen and discouragement of competing ideas are structural aspects that have proven problematic for the SGA and have had a ripple effect on students. The evidence shows the damaging effects of the SGA's disengagement. With some of the past few elections producing 3 percent or 6 percent turnout and featuring one-party competition, the level of discourse offered by our present SGA is not healthy — especially in comparison to other Big Ten institutions, which post higher levels of turnout, with some numbers reaching more than
Voter turnout in this university's SGA elections from 1998 to 2011 rarely dipped below about 15 percent and routinely had more than two parties contesting each other. On top of that, the vast majority of students I have reached out to in the past week have cited a lack of communication and interest in them by the SGA.
These systemic problems are rarely highlighted by an SGA that eases through, year after year, content with low turnout and competition. Because after all, it's easy for them to keep their positions, and it's easy to focus on what position to assume next for a padded resume, when no one is running in opposition. Not only in their comfort, complacency and isolation have they been lacking any investigation into these issues, they have forgotten their role and have neglected their duty of being humble, public servants.
I have advocated for the solutions to these problems throughout the campaign season. They are as follows:
1. To remedy the issue of outreach and engagement, representatives will be required to invite their constituents to town halls and debates they lead and moderate. SGA legislators will also be tasked with assisting their constituents, who serve as the presidents of student clubs, in the funding process.
2. In the spirit of listening to the student body, the SGA will be required to put any proposed fee increase to a referendum.
3. Finally, to encourage competing ideas, the SGA will provide public funding for campaigns so the best ones can emerge. It will also eliminate uncontested elections by extending and broadcasting the election so that a competitor can emerge. Finally, the SGA will reach out to their constituents with the end purpose of opening, and then recruiting, them to the prospect of running.
Ultimately, the ideas needed to improve student life on the campus do not start or end with a reform of SGA representation. But it is the starting point because when everyone can voice themselves, the best of us comes to the forefront.
This true opportunity for the campus to be great is all that is needed.
For a more detailed summarization of my platform, visit my Facebook page: BorettiforSGApresident.
Chris Boretti is a Freshman finance major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.