Opinion: How I’m voting in the Joint Elections
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 21:03
I hope you’ve heard, but in case you haven’t, UConn’s Joint Elections begin this week. Thursday through Sunday, undergraduates can go online and cast their ballots for a wide variety of positions and vote on student fees. With so much on the line, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to vote. I also understand that many people don’t have the time to research each of the candidates and ballot questions, so I would like to share how I’ll be voting this weekend.
I’ll start with the USG Presidential race. I was president of the student body last year, and understand exactly what it takes to do the job well. During my presidency, I worked with both candidates and can attest that they are both upstanding individuals with the best interests of the student body at heart. However, I believe that Ed Courchaine’s experience and vision will make him a better advocate for his fellow students.
Ed is currently the Comptroller of USG, and this executive position has given him an unparalleled understanding of the student government’s budget and finances. Managing over $1.5 million in student fees is the most important job of the student body president, and I am confident that Ed Courchaine will do this more responsibly and efficiently than anyone else.
The president’s other major role is to represent undergraduates’ needs to the UConn administration, the public and the government. I must admit, early on in my presidency, I wasted time pushing for changes that had been proposed before and were not possible for whatever reason. Thanks to his three years in USG, Ed understands what has already been tried and will be able to focus his efforts on areas that can be improved.
We will also be choosing USG’s next comptroller, and I’m voting for John Giardina. John has been involved with USG for years, and currently serves as its Funding Board Chair. As the Funding Board makes up over half of USG’s spending, this experience will go a long way in helping John stretch the budget as far as it can go.
His opponent, a Tier-2 CFO, is focusing her campaign on changing the funding policies for student organizations. However, the comptroller is actually one of the few positions that does not help create these policies – it only enforces them. Someone seeking to change how the Funding Board works should run for president or senator, roles that are involved in shaping policy.
Outside of USG, students will be selecting a new undergraduate representative on UConn’s Board of Trustees. This position is arguably more important than even the president of USG, as the Board decides tuition rates, where to build new structures on campus, and a host of other issues that directly impact students’ quality of life. For this race, I’ll be casting my ballot for Michael Daniels.
Michael has been in USG for years, and is currently in charge of the External Affairs Committee, which lobbies the state and federal government on student issues. Advocating for continued state support is a major role of the Undergraduate Trustee, and Michael will be ready to hit the ground running.
Also, to be blunt, serving on the Board is often very dull. You need to sit through long meetings whose topics are much less exciting than changing tuition or switching athletic conferences. Mike’s work within government has prepared him for this and I’m confident that he’ll excel in these situations – he’s also woken me up during a boring lecture more than once.
And finally, I encourage students to vote “yes” on UConnPIRG’s optional fee. PIRG has been funded by UConn students for 35 years, but last year the administration unilaterally decided to remove their fee despite opposition from every other fee-funded organization. This has crippled PIRG, which does amazing work – during my presidency, I worked closely with PIRG to successfully prevent the interest rate for federal student loans from doubling. Re-instating their fee will allow them to continue fighting to protect the environment and keep college affordable.
I am proudly supporting the candidates listed above, and hope you give them your vote. But more important is that you vote at all. I encourage all students to do their own research on these and the many other positions on the ballot that I didn’t have the space to address. To find out more about the candidates, and cast your ballot when the time comes, check out elections.uconn.edu.