The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Last week, the student body elected Maggie Callaghan and Luke Elfreich as President and Vice President, respectively, of ASG. With this new administration comes the hope that ASG and its executive branch will continue to expand efforts to resolve the many issues that face members of the Miami community. It is very easy for winning candidates to forget the issues on which they campaigned when competition is done and the prize of holding office is in hand. The items listed here represent this staff’s effort to keep the most important issues at the forefront of the conversation.
First, the new administration must commit to more thorough cooperation with this newspaper, as well as other individuals and institutions tasked with being the watchdog of those who govern. Elected officials, even those that hold positions in a student organization, must be held accountable via openness regarding their actions and decisions.
In addition to transparency at the top, student government must do a better job of getting more students involved in policy-making. The people that understand student issues the most are the students themselves, and understanding what most or many of Miami students are concerned about is an integral part of working toward resolving those issues. This includes giving more responsibility to positions such as Vice President. Elfreich should use his platform to develop and drive initiatives. Many of the positions within ASG are paid, and it is important for the people of the Miami community to know that their money is being well spent.
At least two of the populations on campus that are often neglected in discussions of student issues are the disabled and international communities. Callaghan and Elfreich touched on these issues by presenting the ideas of offering more translations of English signs and notifications and keeping the south doors at King Library open 24 hours to increase accessibility. These ideas are good starts.
But with a year to enact policies that affect the students, the leaders of the student body should focus on additional issues. Student Counseling Services has gained a significant amount of attention in recent years as the issue of mental health has moved into the national and local public discourse. With the importance of student mental health, ASG should make improving SCS a necessity.
Under this umbrella are the issues of substance abuse and sexual assault, issues that SCS deals with and that are inseparable from mental health. These issues should always demand attention, but are of chief importance after recent months that saw eight sexual assaults just this semester, alcohol-related injuries and a student death.
Internally, ASG should strive to change its makeup so that it is more proportionate, racially and with respect to gender, to the rest of the student population. As it stands, about 6 percent of ASG members are people of color, and about 38 percent are women. This situation stands in contrast to the general population of Miami students, of which about one-fifth identify as a person of color and about half are female.
The recent addition of a Steering Committee within ASG is a good thought, but it needs more direction to fulfill the purpose of providing Miami students with solutions to issues involving high-risk drinking. Tasks such as attracting businesses to the larger Oxford community may end up being too large of an endeavor to be realistically accomplished in the time that ASG’s leaders have to affect policy.
In that final note is a message to heed overall: The tasks that ASG does take on should be those small attainable goals that can add up to larger results. Not everything can be accomplished in a snap, but with intent and dedication, ASG can and should live up to Miami’s expectations of change and reform in the coming year.