It’s that time of year again – Associated Student Government (ASG) campaign season. Marked by the familiar signs and friendly introductions, this year’s campaign is swinging into high gear.
Currently, the latest crop of candidates is preparing for the primary election and pitching their platforms that promise change.
Change this year, ironically, sounds a lot like the change of years past. Once again, there are promises to tool around with the set-up of the REC center and others to make ASG more representative of the student body.
Now I’m sure these are important issues that need to be addressed (they seem to come up every year) but what if this year a pair of candidates put those issues aside and stopped making promises?
A campaign without promises – it’s a radical idea, but it is exactly what’s needed.
So what would this campaign without promises look like?
Candidates being honest about the nature of the positions they are seeking
First and foremost, the candidates themselves would be honest about the limitations associated with the positions they are seeking. While the titles of president and vice president may carry an aura of importance, within the grand scheme of the university system, there’s less power than suggested.
In reality, the jobs are one part executive and two parts advocate. Yes, the president and vice president would be the chief executives of ASG. Still more importantly, they would also sit on a variety of university committees.
As members of these committees they could use their role to provide a voice to the issues of importance to the student body. And at a school where big decisions are ultimately made by the board, (which doesn’t allow its student members to vote) sitting on these committees is a start.
The long and the short of it is, beyond changing the way parts of ASG are administered, they can serve the important role of acting as advocates for the student body and provide a needed voice for some change on a few important issues.
Identifying important issues and providing a voice
After setting the record straight about the nature of the position they seek, the second step in this campaign without promises would be to identify a set of issues that the candidates, once elected, could provide a voice to.
There is a number of issues they could choose from, and I would encourage them to start with simplifying some of the “additional fees” that are a part of every Miami student’s tuition.
They could start by simplifying the fee that goes towards providing campus-wide wireless internet – the technology fee.
The Office of the Bursar lists this fee twice on its website. Once for on-campus students and once more for off-campus students. Why? Because, you guessed it, the fee being charged is differently for each group.
For on-campus students the technology fee is listed at $114 per semester, or $54 less than the rate of $168 for off-campus students. But that’s just on face value.
The differing fees, an issue the Bursar has dedicated an entire section of FAQs to, is actually the result of a separate “access fee” being charged by Housing and Dinning Services to on-campus students. After this additional access fee, the rate being charged is the same for both on and off-campus students.
So why not simplify things?
As an advocate for the student body, the candidates could talk about using their elected position to provide a voice to the issue. They could talk about simplifying this and many of the other complex fees that don’t always make sense.
Another often overlooked fee that could use some retooling, is the $132 students are charged each semester to fund the Miami Metro. It would be great to see some of the candidates talk about changing the current funding scheme.
For students like myself, who prefer walking Miami’s beautiful campus and the City of Oxford to riding the metro, it would be nice to no longer receive a bill each semester for a service we do not use.
As for finding an alternative source of revenue to fund the metro system, you could always try charging a small fare each time a student uses the service. I am sure that if we can swipe our campus ID cards at vending machines and in the laundry rooms on-campus, it probably wouldn’t be too tough to also use MUlaa on the metro.
So to sum it all up, what this year’s ASG elections need are candidates who are willing to do two things – tell the truth about the nature of the office they are seeking and act as advocates for solutions to the issues that affect everyone. Issues like complicated student fees and charges being billed regardless of whether the services are being used or not.
I know it probably isn’t the sexiest message, but I think the student body would understand if the candidates decided to talk about something other than the REC center this election cycle.