O-Issue 2013: Student Government

Meet our student leaders.

By Rebecca Guterman

Although the elections were fraught with allegations last spring, you will quickly find that Student Government (SG) members work tirelessly for what they think the student body needs, and they function best when students are vocal.

But first, a summary of the hierarchy. SG is led by an executive slate comprising a President, Vice President for Student Affairs, and Vice President for Administration. The slate, along with the Community and Government Liaison, and the Undergraduate and Graduate Liaisons to the Board of Trustees, are elected by the entire student body in early spring. Underneath the executive slate is College Council—consisting of four members from each year elected by their peers—and Graduate Council, with representatives from all graduate divisions. SG is then broken into an assembly, led by an executive cabinet and other committees. The executive cabinet includes the slate, liaisons, and one chairperson from each class of the College. The assembly allocates funding to RSOs, while the executive cabinet advises the University on issues of student concern and sets the agenda for assembly meetings.

This year’s slate, Impact, consists of fourth-year Michael McCown as President, third-year Sofia Flores as VP for Administration, and second-year Jane Huber as VP for Student Affairs. While last year’s slate, Connect, brought in a law student and saw a 211 percent increase in graduate student participation, Impact beat out the other two slates with graduate student members this year—and won with 44.63 percent of the vote.

Impact’s composition is unique in that all three members have more student activism experience than is traditional; last year’s executives, for instance, had been members of SG committees pretty much since they set foot through Hull Gate. Impact’s platform reflected that difference by prioritizing issues such as diversity measures, mental health, and sexual health rather than daily student activities.

During election season, McCown said that Impact is aiming to alter the relationship that SG has with the administration, focusing on increasing the level of involvement SG has in University policy-making.

“There are a lot fairly important things centered around this $6 billion institution that are just not taken up,” he said last spring.

Over the summer, the slate has been working with administrators on resolving the use of space in student-run coffee shop Hallowed Grounds, the incoming director of Student Health and Counseling Services on increasing student say, and others on UCPD reform and the sexual assault policy.

The conduct and by-laws of the Elections & Rules Committee (E&R) were also pushed onto the scene when students questioned the transparency of the student oversight group (see “Campus Controversies”). After input from last year’s slate, a student committee has met multiple times this summer to draft changes that will be presented for discussion when SG reconvenes early fall quarter, according to McCown.

“We want the procedure to be clearer and firmer so that there’s a lot less that is up to individuals…so that people are able to point more to the objectivity of the language in the by-laws,” he said in an interview this summer.

The main changes to E&R thus far, according to third-year committee member Lucy Msall, include: choosing members by application rather than SG vote; clearly defining “early voting, collusion, and campaign over-expenditure”; delineating penalties for infractions so it is more independent from committee member judgment; invalidating anonymous complaints; and specifying an appeals process so it does not have to be improvised as it was in spring.

SG has a lot on its plate this year, but you don’t have to run for College Council or apply for committees to get involved.

“Student Government is meant to represent the student association and I think that it can only do that if people are getting involved and coming to Student Government with ‘this is what I care about,’” McCown said.