With SGA elections approaching quickly, it is important for students to start thinking about who will represent them and, even more, why they should care who represents them. In particular, it is important to keep in mind that the administration is also focused on more long-terms goals, goals that most students here right now will never see. Much of the Institute’s Strategic Plan is focused on the long-haul, five or more years down the road. Students, however, need someone who will focus on more immediate goals, ones that they might actually see the fruits of before graduating. Most importantly, students also need someone to fight for the issue that, for many, matters most: keeping tuition rates low and protecting what is left of HOPE. While it is naïve to think that the student body presidents can control these interests, they can at the very least apply pressure in the direction of students’ best interests.
This recognition of the limits of the student body presidents’ powers is also important for students to keep in mind. If a candidate is making pie-in-the-sky promises to improve campus safety, keep tuition low and single-handedly save HOPE, it’s important to ask whether they can have any significant influence on an issue—or better, a plan of action—or if they are just talking about issues they know students want to hear about. High goals are valuable and important, but it is also important to approach what candidate’s say with both a dose of skepticism and with an eye towards their smaller (and more likely to succeed) policies and plans.
At the end of the day, the character and achievements of the candidates are important as well. It doesn’t matter how many titles the candidates have, how many honors they’ve received, which organizations they have been in or which fraternities they are a part of. What should be at the forefront of voters’ minds should be what the candidates have achieved, what they have changed and how organizations have benefitted from their contributions. In the same way that an employer will not be impressed by a list of titles without a record of achievement, students shouldn’t focus on what names a candidate can drop, but what they are capable of and what they have achieved.