Focusing on Issues

by Amit Anand | 5/8/01 5:00am

What have you done for me lately?

That's probably the question that most students ask every spring when SA elections come around. And every spring, those of us on the Student Assembly point to everything from additional BlitzMail computers to forums with administrators to prove that the SA does make a difference on this campus. And the truth is, it does -- to an extent.

But that's not enough. The student body deserves more from its student government. The SA should be able to make policy decisions instead of just recommendations; it should be an institution based on substantive change instead of reports and rhetoric. It's time for us, as students, to have a voice in the decision-making process of the College.

True, the issue of institutional voice is brought up year after year, seemingly without resolution. But I'm asking you to give me a chance to try something different, an idea that requires an outsider's perspective to envision but an insider's experience to implement.

If elected, my priority will be to work towards a more focused SA, where instead of simultaneously working on 15 different policy issues, we will focus on one or two big issues that we will deliver upon. Gender relations on campus, financial aid increases for upperclassmen and guaranteed housing for all students are just some of the issues that need to be addressed, but we can't hope for any meaningful change if we don't show the administration that we're serious about these issues.

By streamlining our policy areas, I believe that we will be able to have a lot more participation within the Assembly, and be more representative of student opinion. The debates on these issues will be well publicized, and will not be exclusive to the general assembly meetings, which will allow us to get a perspective from a cross-section of the campus.

I will also push for other College committees to follow a similar policy agenda as the SA. Let's face it -- if others are talking about an issue that the SA is talking about, there's a better chance that our voice will be heard.

We have already taken some steps towards that end. Our discussions with the administration have made a difference in how the Assembly is perceived, both amongst students and in Parkhurst Hall, and it is on this foundation that I will help to build a truly effective organization.

Our budget for next year is bigger than it has been over the last two years, which means we can think big and actually deliver. I will continue our current focus on student services, but will not be afraid to take on bigger projects that involve students and student organizations beyond the Assembly.

Recently, a resolution was brought to the floor of the Assembly calling for the College to officially recognize the Korean Language Program and hire permanent faculty. One of the clauses of the resolution invited proposals for financial assistance from student organizations that will promote the program (through miniversity classes, etc.) before it is officially recognized.

That's just one example on how we can use some of our funds and other resources to bring about real change on campus, without waiting for a response from the administration.

And that's just the beginning. The potential for what SA can accomplish is enormous; what are needed now are leaders who have the experience to know how the Assembly works, and know how to deal with the administration. At the same time, the SA needs leaders who have been outside the institution long enough to be able to think beyond the status quo -- leaders who are not afraid to try something new, and who are not afraid to stand up for students' rights.

I strongly believe that I can make the Assembly a more effective institution, and would be grateful for your vote to be Student Body Vice President.

You'll notice the difference -- I guarantee it.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!