Choosing the Davis Center Decider

In contrast to last year, when the Seth Bowdon and Ajay Schmidt ticket claimed the prize virtually uncontested, there are seven clever options to choose from in this years SGA presidential race. But the question on many potential voters minds is: “Is this a popularity contest to improve someone’s resume, or is there a candidate out there that can really improve student life?”

According to candidate Ross Nizlek’s campaign platform, he is surely optimistic about the power SGA holds by proclaiming that “SGA has tremendous power on this campus to protect the student interest and exact change, especially when led by a determined president.” Let’s just hope that if elected, Nizlek will have the time to wield his tremendous power while maintaining an open door policy that will have students flooding into his office to lodge their grievances.

A hot button issue in this year’s campaign has been UVM’s new dry campus policy, and the role of police on campus. You can’t really blame the candidates for catering to the popular opinion within the student body in favor of the right to party in the dorms. But can you vote for a candidate who is sympathetic to the plight of what presidential hopeful Lydia Morin describes as a “police state?”

These sorts of promises won’t necessarily translate into any change. Candidates who have adopted this platform may as well promise us world peace. The reality is, the SGA president cannot exercise the power to take police out of our halls and bring booze back to our rooms.

The will of University administrations always trumps that of an SGA. Just ask the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee SGA. They were shut down by the administration last October when they suspected the president had been embezzling money. In that case (and many more) the administration superceded the authority of the SGA.

This is not to say the presidency isn’t a powerful position. The upcoming agenda for SGA fiscal year 2008-2009 will be ultimately determined by the “Decider in the Davis Center.”

If this year has taught us anything about the University, it is that our community is not as safe as we all thought it was. Colby Eck’s bizarre naked assault in Harris compounded by Michelle Gardener Quinn’s tragic death has highlighted the need for all University institutions to focus on student safety. The information found at our SGA web site informs us that present Senator Scott McCarty has built his campaign around the need to improve safety through improvements in transportation while others like Senator Kesha Ram are calling for community based efforts to stop violence before it happens.

In February, to the behest of commuters and bikers alike, the University of Toronto Student Union instituted a tuition hike for students to pay an additional $89 for a transit pass. It remains to be seen if there is a strategy available for SGA to improve safety without forcing students to increase mandatory student fees that may or may not improve our safety.

If there is anything that is not clever about the SGA presidential race this year it is that there is not a significant number of outside the ranks candidates. There are only two: Christina Wehry and Nick Meltzer. Although these candidtes are unfamilar with the SGA bureaucracy, an infusion of fresh faces and new ideas may be just what SGA needs.