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Volume 69, Issue 89, Thursday, February 12, 2004

Opinion
 

Invest in your University

by Jim McCormick

It's campaign time again.

No, I'm not talking about the Democratic Party primaries or the presidential election. I'm talking about the Student Government Association elections. The Election Commission is accepting applications for anyone interested in running for the Senate or president or vice president.

While I have no intention of ever running for office, I urge any of you out there with ideas for improving the University to seriously consider submitting the paperwork to be a candidate this year. Even if you don't intend to run, you really should pay attention to the campaign and vote in the elections on March 10 and 11.

In the last election, most of the candidates ran uncontested, and some seats weren't voted on because nobody ran for them. In the case of The Honors College, this meant not having elected representation in the Senate, as that college only holds one seat. While Honors students are represented through the college of their major as well as The Honors College, this meant that they just yielded some power to the rest of the Senate, or to a senator appointed by SGA President Dawona Miller. If some other college ran uncontested, none of its majors would have a say in what happens on campus.

Why should anybody care? The fact is, because of low voter turnout at SGA elections and fits of childish infighting within the Senate in recent years, the SGA's credibility has plummeted. Though they do have the official ability to propose legislation to the Board of Regents, why should the regents take them seriously? After all, the current Senate was elected by an embarrassingly low percentage of students. Are the senators' opinions and actions really representative of the student body? I don't know, and I doubt that UH President Jay Gouge or any of the members of the Board of Regents could be sure of SGA's legitimacy either.

We the students need to step up and take advantage of the powers University administration has given us. Admittedly, that power isn't much, but if we take responsibility for it and allow our voices to be heard more clearly in the legislative process, there is a possibility that we may get more of what we want from the University.

However, I must warn of parties at this level of politics. There's a reason Texas doesn't allow municipal races to have any official partisan influence. At this level, there's really little need for any collective platform. In fact, such collective platforms, which are a staple of all political parties, can be detrimental to the government organization. Even President Washington warned about partisan politics in his farewell address. And as it stands, it doesn't seem that the only political party on campus, the Student Voice party, serves any purpose at all, other than to serve as a method of virtually guaranteeing election.

Rebuilding student credibility with the University administration starts with showing concern in SGA's affairs. Let's not let this chance to be seen as responsible adults pass us by as we have in the past. Invest a year in your University. If you can't do that, at least make the 10-minute investment of voting. Otherwise, don't complain when our suggestions and demands aren't taken seriously.

McCormick, an editorial writer for The Daily Cougar, can be reached at rantman_200@sbcglobal.net.
 

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