April 20, 2010

2010 Student Government endorsements

The Maroon endorses Next Generation, David Akinin, and supports changing the sexual assault policy

Executive Slate

Although there is only one competitive slate on this year’s Student Government (SG) ballot, the Maroon is confident that Next Generation will ably represent students’ concerns and institute a number of worthwhile changes on campus, and so the Maroon endorses Next Generation for Executive Slate.

Next Generation consists of third-year candidate for president Greg Nance, second-year candidate for vice president of administration David Chen, and first-year candidate for vice president of student affairs Patrick Ip, who bring a wealth of SG experience to their ticket. Next Generation’s understanding of SG is apparent in its commonsense platform, which emphasizes small, practical reforms that will have a positive impact on student life at the U of C.

As one example, organizing a pub crawl, which Next Generation promises to do within its first thirty days in office, will give a much needed shot-in-the-arm to University nightlife. Similarly, their proposed expansion of the student discount program to restaurants in Chinatown and downtown would encourage exploration of Chicago and seems practical, given that a more limited version of the program is already in effect.

For those staying close to campus, Next Generation hopes to make late-night dining permanent. Not only would this fulfill a longstanding student demand for better food and social spaces at night, but it seems within reach after last week’s trial run of late-night dining in Hutch. Next Generation’s focus on the small-but-concrete is again evident in their pledge to bring back the UCPD’s bike registration program, which aids in recovering stolen bikes. Since this program has been available in the past, it shouldn’t be overly difficult to revive, and it offers a clear benefit to the Hyde Park community.

However, the Maroon encourages Next Generation not to overemphasize matters of transparency and communication, which make up a large portion of their platform. While nobody opposes increased communication with student representatives, SG’s focus should be on getting things done; when students see regular evidence of SG’s impact on campus, they will want to communicate with their student representatives, whether SG solicits such contacts or not. Ultimately, an SG slate is judged not by the number of office-hour sessions it offers each week, but by its ability to bring about substantive change, and on that count the Maroon is optimistic that by this time next year, Next Generation will be considered a success.

Undergraduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees

For the office of undergraduate liaison to the board of trustees, the Maroon endorses second-year David Akinin. Akinin, who ran for the same position last year, showed a thorough understanding of the liaison’s somewhat limited role at trustee meetings and demonstrated a keen interest in SG affairs. Akinin has been active on a number of SG committees and has considerable knowledge of issues pertinent to the student body. The Maroon was impressed by Akinin’s ability to convey his ideas, and we expect that he will be a passionate and articulate voice for student concerns.

Sexual Assault Referendum

On the sexual assault referendum, the Maroon strongly encourages students to vote against keeping the current policy. It makes no sense to place something as important as sexual assault allegations in the hands of the accused’s own department; doing so invites conflicts of interest and decentralizes a process that should be uniform across the University.

In the future, however, more must be done to publicize such referenda and the pros and cons associated with a vote of “yes” or “no.” While the Working Group on the Sexual Assault Policy has done an admirable job conveying their particular position to the University community, few students understand the rationale behind the current policy and what—if anything—they stand to lose by altering it. SG, as a neutral party, could provide an outline of the benefits of voting “yes” and “no” and disseminate it with fliers, campus events, or an all-campus e-mail. Such steps would ensure that students are fully informed when they log on to cast their votes.

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