October 1, 2016

Voting smart requires thinking forward

Contributed by Katie Maxwell, Student Government Association President

Out of my three years participating in the Student Government Association (SGA), I have never seen the organization more active than it has been this year. When the news of the 51 percent budget deductions for student organizations broke, someone asked me how it felt to become president and then have that “thrown onto me.” I simply replied that it didn’t matter how I felt, it mattered what I did. I’m not going to downplay the importance of self-awareness, but when you’re in a leadership role, the most important thing is how you proceed in the face of adversity.

Now that it’s campaign season, you will see all the SGA candidates use various techniques to win voters. They’ll try to show how much they care about students, how they want to help the students have a voice and how they can help improve student life at Webster. I have no doubt the candidates running for positions in SGA are genuine in those aspirations. However, I urge you to make sure you are an informed voter. Part of that is making sure you vote for an informed candidate.

Rather than ask what their goals are if they were elected, ask questions that are more indicative of how they will perform. Don’t question their desire to better student life; inquire about their plans of action and knowledge of resources. I believe the following questions would be more helpful to see what they will do rather than what they want to do in office:

What have you already done in regard to the issues you promise to address in office?

What efforts have you made to work with SGA regarding those issues?

What do you think the organization should do next?

What efforts have you made to ensure you fully understand the responsibilities of the position you’re running for?

What do you believe is the most important part of that role?

This year, we’ve tried to reinforce that you don’t need to be in SGA to impact change. A significant part of being an SGA member is empowering students and encouraging them to use SGA as a resource. Regardless of if they’ve been a part of SGA or not, if they haven’t already made strides to address a situation they promise to make a priority, how likely are they to follow through?

Also, with everything that has happened this year, I believe it’s important for candidates to speak with the people currently serving in their prospective office regarding the issues that have been raised. As of right now, the two presidential candidates who have reached out to me are Gaby Deimeke and Caroline Wiley. In general, there are always aspects of each role people aren’t aware of. However, this is especially true this semester, because we’ve had multiple constitutional changes, like changing the chair of the Programming Pool Committee to be the Student Organization Liaison rather than Sergeant-at-Arms.

I urge you all to consider the bigger questions before you cast your vote. This isn’t a time to vote based on friendships, blog posts, or big promises. Anyone can identify a problem, but it takes a special skill set to follow through and solve it. They have to understand how the university operates and be able to work within the existing system. More importantly, their influence will extend far beyond anything they do next year. They will be part of a legacy that will influence SGAs from here on out. If anyone has any SGA questions, I can be contacted at kmaxwell75@webster.edu.

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