April 21, 2009

SG election guide: United Progress

[img id="77618" align="alignleft"] Casting itself as a politically savvy slate—despite having only underclassmen on its ticket—United Progress (UP) promises it has the know-how to make SG more accessible to the students it serves.

“Our main focus is that there’s a serious lack of engagement between students and SG,” said first-year College Council and candidate for Vice President for Administration (VPA) Sohrab Kohli.

To that end, UP said it would hold more open forums with University administrators and develop a rapport with students by engaging them outside the student government apparatus.

“It means going out to events, hanging out at the #171 bus stop, taking our lunch and going to sit with a bunch of people we don’t know,” current VPA and second-year Julian Quintanilla said. Quintanilla, who is running for president, added that such “face to face discussion” would allow students to tell SG about its mistakes directly.

UP’s SG experience revolves mainly around Quintanilla, who developed a series of RSO reforms this year, a measure that passed Thursday.

Quintanilla called the measure, which put RSO leaders on the SG Finance Committee (SGFC) and ensured graduate student representation, “probably the biggest step [for SGFC] in 20 years.”

Improving relations with the Hyde Park community is another of UP’s platform planks, which current student liaison for student life and second-year Allen Linton has championed.

While conscious of the fact that students want the University to encourage developers to increase retail presence in the neighborhood, Linton, the candidate for vice president for student affairs, had reservations over the process. “Is the University going to come and bully people off their land because their students want something?” he asked.

Linton said that developing a plan for 24-hour campus dining means “not just seeing what students want, but what community leaders want, too.”

UP sees itself as a stepping-stone for students who want their own ideas enacted by SG. “The role of the slate isn’t to be a dream weaver,” Kohli said, referring to the fact that the slate is running more on its character than on a set of proposals. “That would be a little irresponsible.”