January 26, 2010

Midway review

Student Government’s Executive Slate has been delivering on its promises

Last spring the YouChicago executive slate ran on an ambitious platform, promising attention to issues ranging from security to TA salaries. Now that their term is almost at the halfway point, it’s worth taking a look at the extent to which they’ve accomplished their goals. While final authority rests with the Administration on many issues the Slate set out to tackle, they have succeeded in making a number of concrete changes that will continue to benefit the student body after they leave.

Some of the major accomplishments of the current Slate are simple but significant additions to student services. Working with the Transportation Department and other members of the Transportation Student Advisory Board, SG president Jarrod Wolf has fulfilled his campaign promise to provide more off-campus transportation with the new downtown bus shuttle. UChicagoApartments.com, launched in the fall to help students find housing off-campus, now has as many users as Marketplace’s apartments section, according to fourth-year Vice President of Student Affairs Chris Williams. The Slate has also succeeded in increasing funding to academic competition teams and community service organizations, as well as in allowing credit card payments in Cobb Coffee Shop and Hallowed Grounds.

The Slate announced this quarter that it will take a more passive support role for College Council projects. This goal is laudable, but the Slate should continue to push hard to carry out its own agenda. Before the end of their term, the Slate plans to launch UBazaar, a Web site through which houses and RSOs can sell tickets and merchandise. Williams said the Slate hopes to add space for storing roughly 100 more bikes when construction around campus ends. Besides these projects, the Slate should complete the transition to UchicagoApartments.com by phasing out Marketplace’s apartments section. If these goals aren’t ambitious enough, by instituting regular office hours the Slate can ensure that more student concerns make it on the agenda.

In some areas of their platform, it may be difficult for the Slate to make further headway. For example, the Slate advocated to expand Flex dollars to campus cafes, but the decision is ultimately up to the administration. The office of housing and dining is currently doing a comprehensive study of Aramark and the dining halls, so change will likely have to wait until after the study is complete. Similarly, increasing TA salaries and extending TA jobs to upper-level graduate students is, as Williams said, “not something SG is single-handedly capable of doing.” However, if the Slate continues their current formula of advocating big issues while making small, concrete changes, they will be one of the most successful Slates in years.

— The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional Editorial Board member.