The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

2024 USG Endorsement: The Timing’s Just Right with “Better Slate Than Never” Slate

The Maroon Editorial Board endorses Better Slate Than Never for Undergraduate Student Government’s executive slate, Arsima Araya for trustee and faculty governance liaison, and Andrea Pita Mendez for vice president of advocacy.
2024+USG+Endorsement%3A+The+Timing%E2%80%99s+Just+Right+with+%E2%80%9CBetter+Slate+Than+Never%E2%80%9D+Slate
Nathaniel Rodwell-Simon

With spring marking a new election cycle for Undergraduate Student Government (USG), the Maroon Editorial Board invited the 2024 candidates to interviews to share their respective platforms, ambitions, and hopes for the futures of USG and the University. Across all interviews and correspondence, all of the candidates shared a common, unifying trait: a genuine and obvious commitment to ensuring that USG honors and defends the cares and concerns of the undergraduate student body. Given this, we are particularly eager to urge students to vote in this week’s election, with student body representation and opinions being of particular concern to each of this year’s candidates—starting with this very election. Although the Editorial Board has endorsed certain candidates, we are confident that each and every one of this year’s candidates has the ambition and capabilities to enact meaningful change on UChicago’s campus. Hence, we  are hopeful that all eligible voters will take the time to earnestly assess and support their chosen candidates prior to the polls’ closure at 4 p.m on Friday, April 19.

Editor’s note: While the Maroon makes a sincere effort to accommodate each candidate’s obligations and time commitments when scheduling interviews, not every candidate was able to meet with the board for an interview. In such instances, candidates were able to submit any and all relevant materials to the board that the candidate(s) felt were illustrative of the candidate’s platform goals, aims, and ambitions. The ability to attend a live interview with the board was not a factor taken into consideration when endorsing candidates.

Executive Slate: Better Slate Than Never

The Maroon Editorial Board enthusiastically endorses Better Slate Than Never, consisting of second-years Elijah Jenkins as president and Timothy Lu as executive vice president (EVP).

Running as the executive slate of the broader Phoenix Party, Jenkins and Lu endeavor to help USG rise from the ashes, with the ultimate goal of revitalizing USG internally and in the eyes of the broader undergraduate student body. Their platform hinges upon three primary pillars—Unite, Engage, and Transform—each of which demands on-the-ground collaboration with students beyond the USG bubble.

Potential steps Jenkins mentioned to increase USG’s engagement with the student body include posting regularly on Instagram, sending out quarterly updates, and actively inviting students to USG College Council meetings. Aware of the unenthusiastic view many students have towards USG, Jenkins and Lu hope that by increasing transparency and improving communication, they can help create a better understanding of USG’s efforts and achievements and their impact on students’ daily lives.

Jenkins and Lu also hope to provide greater support to RSO leaders. In the midst of ongoing conversations and contention regarding the state of the University’s finances, Jenkins and Lu are particularly concerned with training, in collaboration with the Center for Leadership and Involvement (CLI), RSO leaders in fundraising, finance management, and developing strong alumni relationships to ensure their RSOs’ longevity and self-sufficiency.

Simultaneously, Jenkins and Lu are conscious to not neglect the obvious need for stability and strength within USG itself, with this year’s elections marking the lowest number of participating candidates in a USG election. Jenkins expressed particular concern regarding USG’s turnover rate of participating members, in which successful and driven USG members tend to burn out after just one year, while prospective USG members, who could successfully fill those vacant roles, instead feel closed off from the seemingly private world of USG. Drawing upon Jenkins’ prior leadership experience within College Council, Jenkins hopes to bring the training and mentorship he has been able to deliver to College Council members to the vast variety of vice presidents and committee chairs, such that these individuals can successfully devise and execute ambitious initiatives.

Better Slate Than Never is also specifically concerned with uplifting and actionably responding to the voices and concerns of UChicago’s low-income student community. Working directly alongside CLI and the Center for College Student Success (CCSS), Jenkins and Lu hope to generate alumni support for a Student Activities Fund, which will help low-income students pay for out-of-pocket RSO expenses such as conference fees, transportation, and meals. As a whole, Jenkins and Lu hope to use their tenure to strengthen the relationship between USG and the very students they aim to represent, with the current relationship between USG and the student body being characterized by a lack of general knowledge regarding how USG actually serves the broader campus community.

The second slate on the ballot, Lyftin’ La Vida Loca, comprised of third-years Christopher Phillips and Victor Jiao, possesses an obvious passion for representing the present needs and concerns of the undergraduate student body, with a platform centered around protecting the Lyft program, hastening the restoration of Botany Pond, and returning to a 24-hour Regenstein Library. However, Better Slate Than Never exhibits a keen and much-needed foresight that is critical at this delicate juncture in USG history—a foresight that anticipates not just the needs of the student body but the needs of USG itself, which must be met in order for USG to truly serve UChicago undergraduates. While an ambitious undertaking for any executive slate, our board is optimistic that it’s Better Slate Than Never’s time to shine.

Trustee and Faculty Liaison: Arsima Araya

The Maroon Editorial Board eagerly endorses third-year Arsima Araya for trustee and faculty liaison.

If elected, Araya’s primary goal for her tenure is to transform the liaison role into a dynamic role—one that critically examines those who hold power within the UChicago community, their values, and the ways in which USG can work with them in order to put a pen to the page on issues of diversity and inclusion. Araya is specifically concerned with facilitating conversations with the board that manifest in concrete, actionable change and that actively support students in understanding the inner workings of the University. Much of Araya’s thoughtful and critical understanding of what the liaison role could truly be stems from her impressive involvement in the University of Chicago Black Council. Through the council, Araya has engaged in dialogues that have ultimately served to strengthen the relationship between Black UChicagoans and the communities surrounding the University.

Even through the window of a Zoom screen, Araya exuded a natural charisma and personability that will no doubt serve her well when inspiring students from all corners of the University to attend student lunches. Araya described her reach on campus as one of her greatest advantages in this year’s election. With an intimate knowledge of the University’s vast number of RSOs and major departments, we as a board are confident that Araya will be able to bring previously unheard or overlooked voices to the forefront of important conversations with the Board of Trustees. Within Araya, our board has identified both urgency and agency, and we have no doubt that Araya will be able to elevate the liaison role to new heights.

VP for Advocacy: Andrea Pita Mendez

The Maroon Editorial Board gladly endorses first-year Andrea Pita Mendez for vice president for advocacy.

In just two and a half quarters as a College Council representative, Mendez already is responsible for bringing about an impressive degree of change as the chair of the Academic and Career Advising Committee. Mendez’s tenure has been marked by developing a meaningful and sustainable relationship with UChicago’s academic advising department through monthly meetings, with the ultimate hopes of improving the College Catalog, improving the pre-registration and add/drop processes, and exploring ways alongside the Director of Academic Advising to achieve coherence and consistency within advising spaces.

Having been involved in student government for approximately eight years, Mendez is no stranger to identifying the needs of her student community and does not shy away from engaging in educated, intellectual debates that will allow those needs to best be met. Additionally, as a FGLI-identifying student attending UChicago through the Questbridge program, Mendez is cognizant of just how important it is that the advocacy role be filled by someone who truly endeavors to amplify the voices they represent. Mendez’s clear drive and tenacity brings to her campaign an unmatched intentionality, and we know that if elected, Mendez will hit the ground running with ease.

Leave a Comment
Donate to Chicago Maroon
$5463
$7000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation makes the work of student journalists of University of Chicago possible and allows us to continue serving the UChicago and Hyde Park community.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Maroon Editorial Board

Board Members

Solana Adedokun

Elena Eisenstadt

Cherie Fernandes

Michael McClure

Eva McCord

Naina Purushothaman

Kayla Rubenstein

Anu Vashist

 

The Editorial Board publishes editorials that represent The Maroon's institutional voice. Seven to 10 voting-eligible members of The Maroon compose the Board. The editor-in-chief runs the editorial board, and the managing editor is required to be a member. Each member of the Board has equal voting power. No more than three members of the Editorial Board may dissent from a published editorial. If more than three members dissent, the editorial may not be published. Dissenters are entitled but not required to explain the reason(s) for their dissent at the end of the editorial. 

Nathaniel Rodwell-Simon
Nathaniel Rodwell-Simon, Deputy Photo Editor, News Reporter
Nathaniel is a first year in the college studying history and Education and Society. He is a News Reporter and Deputy Photo Editor for the Maroon.
Donate to Chicago Maroon
$5463
$7000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Chicago Maroon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *