The Arizona Desert Lamp

The Porkies are so very important, we can’t possibly let you know who they are

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 2 November 2009

Pig, MaskedThis is Arizona government:

38.421 Stealing, destroying, altering or secreting public record; classification

A. An officer having custody of any record, map or book, or of any paper or proceeding of any court, filed or deposited in any public office, or placed in his hands for any purpose, who steals, or knowingly and without lawful authority destroys, mutilates, defaces, alters, falsifies, removes or secretes the whole or any part thereof, or who permits any other person so to do, is guilty of a class 4 felony.

This is Arizona government on ASUA:

I have checked on your request for the complete lists of ASUA Freshman Class Council members and the lists are not maintained at the ASUA offices.

So we do have not have [sic] any documents responsive to your request.

Best Regards,

Jonny Cruz

Director of Media Relations

The University of Arizona

Part of this is patent nonsense on ASUA’s part: the request included the list for the current Freshman Class, and it’s highly specious to argue that they don’t have a current membership roll. It should also be remembered that ASUA is not in fact governed by A.R.S. – in the eyes of the law, it is a division of Student Affairs (which is not, in fact, yours), and required to adhere to no more disclosure of information than Enrollment Services. Not keeping records is more stupidity than criminality, but “criminal negligence” is not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

Some more fun juxtaposition from the FCC’s own website:

very important people: As you’ll see, there are a lot of people involved in FCC so here are a couple of awesome people that you can approach for anything- questions, concerns, jokes, or inspirational quotes:

if you have questions: We want you to have all your questions answered before you apply so we encourage you to ask all that you want.  You can go visit the ASUA offices, email the director at jsmacken@email.arizona.edu.

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ASUA Senate Report, 28 October 2009

Posted in Campus, Politics, Textbooks by Evan Lisull on 29 October 2009

Agenda available here. It’s a long one, so get comfortable:

1. Consent Agenda. We’re working on getting the official document, but there were some interesting issues pertaining to the ever-mysterious club funding process. Mock Trial withdrew their third request of the year, as they didn’t want to endanger their funding requests for next semester. Fostering & Achieving Cultural Equity and Sensitivity (FACES) was denied a request for $39, since the items requested were personal items (i.e. pencils). The Social Justice League (the folks that required $1600 to emulate homelessness) received funds to rent space on the Mall and to market their event, but were denied funding for food. Students for Justice in Palestine received somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,190 to pay for plane tickets to an event in Hampshire College, in Amherst, MA.

2. OASIS Bystanders. Sen. Quillin remarked, “All of my experiences with OASIS have been amazing,” and while my experiences have only been secondary and come word-of-mouth, I have to second this sentiment. Without getting into details, OASIS proved to be a godsend to a close friend facing some serious trouble, and its existence is an overall good for this university.

That having been said, their latest idea threatens to muddle their mission, turning an admirable cause into a nannying arm of Student Health. First, though, their mission statement:

The Oasis Program was established to provide a variety of services to UA students, staff, and faculty (men, women, and transgendered persons) who are impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. The Oasis Program is a unit of Campus Health Service and is an active partner with Tucson community service agencies. Together with our campus and community partners we strive to provide coordinated responses to, and work toward the prevention of, all forms of interpersonal violence.

In effect, the program helps women deal with sexual assault, and provides self-defense classes and other similar programs to this end; I suspect that the interpersonal violence line was added to generalize gender. What OASIS does not does not do is deal with other health issues that don’t involve “interpersonal violence” – until today’s introduction of the OASIS Bystander Program. This program, according to the presenter, is based off the STEP UP program run by UA Athletics:

STEP UP! is a prosocial behavior and bystander intervention program that educates students to be proactive in helping others.

A survey at three Universities (The University of Arizona, University of California, Riverside and University of Virginia), revealed that students are encountering multiple situations where bystander intervention would be appropriate including, among other things, alcohol abuse, hazing, eating disorders, sexual assault and discrimination. Almost 90% stated a problem could have been avoided with intervention and up to 85% of the student-athletes indicated they would like to learn skills to intervene. The bottom line is that many, if not most, unfortunate results are PREVENTABLE.

Similarly, OASIS Bystanders will receive 90-minute training sessions, teaching them how to act in the face of such “anti-social” behaviors. In addition to questions like, “Are there things I should be doing to help my friend who was recently raped?”, OASIS Bystanders will also learn how to answer questions like, “What do you do if you see someone really intoxicated? Do you call for help?” They will also offer sixty minute presentations to groups on issues like bullying, hazing, drinking, and eating disorders.

The presentation cited the “success” of STEP UP, but its hard to see any manifestation of this outside of administrative fauxtistics and collection of personal anecdotes (which go so far as to withhold the name of the athletes cited – what is this, Witness Protection?); if I remember correctly, it was one of our more famous athletes that could have used a bit of “intervention” of his own.

Yet worse than this is the effect that the Bystander program will have in distracting OASIS from its more important role in preventing sexual assault, and providing resources for its victims. OASIS has been admirable in honing in on this issue, and there’s absolutely no reason to think that there is need for greater focus elsewhere; Campus Health already caters to that.

There are ways to tailor this program to make it better hew to the mission of OASIS. The basic formula could be kept, but re-tailored with its main focus. In fact, the program could be used to reach out to males, a group traditionally and unfortunately uninvolved in such programs. The formation of a ‘Teal Shirts” division to enforce sexual assault laws might raise up the question of whether “good fascism” exists, but OASIS could train men to watch for examples of sexual assault, and encourage them to intervene. This might lead to more “interpersonal violence” overall, but I hope it is not to controversial to say that old-fashioned fights are preferable to domestic violence.

At any rate, the first information meeting/trial run will take place on November 4, 10 AM, on the third floor of the campus health building. Your author won’t be able to make it, but citizen journalism is always encouraged – so go.

3. Textbook Commitment Resolution. One might think that the ASUA Senate would start a discussion on textbook prices by wondering about the potential conflicts of interest in deriving almost forty percent of their total revenues from the ASUA Bookstore. Instead, the Senate presented a resolution [PDF] of this year’s ineffectual textbook program, led by ASA and based on a letter drafted by President Nagata (so that‘s why he hasn’t responded!):

UNDERSTANDING the rising cost of education at the University of Arizona, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona are asking a commitment from university faculty and department heads in regard to textbooks, with the knowledge that textbooks are a substantial associated cost in relation to attendance;

It’s a bit misguided to focus on textbooks in the context of overall rising costs of college education. Here, for example, is a chart depicting the cost estimates for an in-state student attending the UA, courtesy of the Office of Financial Aid:

Cost of UA Education, In-State

It’s not quite clear why travel is so high for in-state students – in fact, the estimate is almost $1,000 higher than the estimate for out-of-state students. Do in-state kids go back home that often? This is all incidental to the point that books aren’t really that great a cost, relative to other educational inputs (4.9 percent). It’s even less of a factor for out-of-state students:

Cost of UA Education, Out-of-State

The underlying data, with cool interactive graphs, can be had here. Rather than being a “substantial associated cost,” the real problem with textbooks is their relative expense – in layman’s terms, textbooks seem more expensive than they should be. Some of this is also a result of lacking market knowledge – hopefully, all students have bought books before, and know how much a “good” book costs. But for many, paying for housing is the first proper rent payment of their sentient lives, and tuition is a unique event. Not only are textbooks more expensive than average books, but they are also of lower quality (speaking in aggregate) – poorly written, uninformative, and filled with incidental material unrelated to the class.

Even though they don’t properly diagnose the problem, the resolution does hint at a better approach than years’ past:

UNDERSTANDING that it is incontrovertibly within their [the faculty and department heads’] power to aid and alleviate some portion of students’ financial burdens in relation to textbook costs

This site made such an observation in its second post ever, but it’s good to ASA moving in this general direction.  Here is what ASA/ASUA propose to do:

WHEREAS the Associated Students of the University of Arizona implore university faculty members to utilize textbooks for consecutive academic years, and within this commitment will allow said textbook to be enrolled within the textbook rental program.

UNDERSTANDING the faculty member or department head will also enter into said commitment with the agreement that faculty members will also submit textbook titles to the University of Arizona BookStores before the adoption from due dates preventing unnecessary costs of acquisition past that date;

The first clause basically means that instructors have to commit to using textbooks for two academic years in a row, and enroll in the rental program. The second clause is referring to an issue from the bookstore’s perspective: when professors submit their book requests beyond a certain deadline, fees are assessed, and the costs are passed onto purchasing students. There’s another clause asserting that textbooks are a “significant portion” of education costs, and then the operative clause:

THEREFORE this body endorses and advocates this textbook commitment campaign with the ultimate goal of lowering textbook costs for students and alleviate unneeded financial burden.

Sen. Quillin, who introduced and drafted the resolution, described it as “more of an awareness campaign,” but it’s even weaker than that. ASA is still a program under the control of ASUA – President Nagata appoints the entirety of the UA delegation; and in this case, directly inspired the campaign. If ASA were to do something contrary to Senate wishes, presumably they would make this known, and the policy would be modified. This resolution is basically one arm of ASUA endorsing the actions of another, an event that occurs countless times when the Senate offers “support” for ZonaZoo or a percentage night at La Salsa.

The program is a step in the right direction, but ironically enough it tries to do too much by sanctioning the professors. Instead, ASUA should revive that old canard of transparency, and apply it to the problem of textbooks. The program cites the problems caused by professors turning in their book requests too late – why not release a list of the professors who do so? Once that information is out in public, professors will be forced to defend their policies. If the professors have genuine reason for their expensive textbooks, then that will be apparent. If they don’t, such disclosure should serve as the pressure necessary to affect real shifts. In fact, the Associated Students Book Store has enough information to let us know the textbook prices of each and every class offered at the UA. It has historical data, too. There is nothing better that the Associated Students of the UA could do to have a long-term, genuine impact on textbook prices than releasing this information. More information will lead to more informed customers, both with students looking for classes and professors looking for books.

Another issue, relating to information, concerns professor involvement. Sens. Weingartner and Daniel Wallace asked how many faculty members were contacted before drafting this resolution/letter; and while the answers varied between one and three, they were are centered on how many Faculty Senate members were/should be contacted. This is the wrong approach, though – if you want to understand how a market works, you need to start at the bottom. Focusing on quantity, rather than administrative quality, reveals a larger sample of textbook approaches – and it might be argued that the faculty involved in Senate are less likely to pursue unconventional paths.

Instead, we get Sen. Quillin asserting in his report that the resolution is a “”feasible and tangible way to make a difference in the cost of higher education.” Usually, ‘tangible’ is referred to something real, an ill-fitting term for something like textbooks, where exactly no evidence has been presented showing the efficacy of its programs. Amusingly enough, ASA’s page on textbooks includes this excerpt:

In 2008 ASA worked to pass legislation that required textbook publishers to disclose their prices to professors.  Our research showed that this was one of the most effective ways to lower the cost of textbooks for students.

Though covering this beat for over a year (two, if you count the Wildcat), the author had no idea that ASA had a research arm! Perhaps these researchers would care to reveal themselves? Are there other reports, analyses, or even data? Could this specific ‘research’ be presented with the imminent media blitz surrounding the new textbook campaign? We wait in earnest, but on a serious note – if this research exists, please release it now, so we can stop making a joke out of it.

4. Club Triathlon/Senate Project Funding. What is the Club Triathlon? As it turns out, it’s not athletic, and there’s nothing tripartite about it. The program, brought to the Senate floor by Sen. Stephen Wallace the Elder, is a project of ASUA Community Development, and involves providing incentives to clubs to participate in volunteering. Don’t clubs already do a lot of philanthropy work, as Sen. Quillin pointed out? Yes, but let’s not get distracted here. The clubs are given a list of philanthropies that, according to Sen. S. Wallace, “we’d like them to participate in.” Suppose you want to volunteer at a non-listed philanthropy – do those hours count? Sen. S. Wallace doesn’t say, but the prospects aren’t promising.

A competition will commence between the twenty clubs (out of  “near 500” clubs = 4%+ of total clubs), who will keep track of all the hours volunteered by their members at the pre-approved charities. The competition will continue for an indeterminate period of time, at which point winners will be announced. The club with the most “volunteer credits” will receive $1,000; the second-place club will receive a $250 clothing installment from club funding; and the third place club will receive a catered event courtesy of ASUA.

So why is Sen. S. Wallace coming to the Senate for this funding? After all, Community Development is an arm of Programs and Services, and received $4,816 (including stipends) in the budget. Well, according to Sen. S. Wallace, this is a Senate project – even though he’s acting “in collaboration” on a event directly sponsored by an arm of Programs & Services. And according to Administrative Vice President Ziccarelli (the executive in charge of P&S), this was an “unforeseen event,” meaning that it wasn’t budgeted for.

Wait – “unforeseen event” sounds familiar. Isn’t that exactly the sort of expense that was supposed to be covered by the executive operations accounts? Sen. Daniel Wallace the Younger brought this issue up yet again, assuming in vain that the defense was more than a rhetorical trick to scam the Senate out of control over the ASUA purse. Instead, $500 came directly from Club Funding (which is open to all clubs, rather than just the twenty that were able to field a team in this ‘triathlon’); $250 came from Community Development, raised through percentage nights and sponsorships; and the final $250 is supposed to come from the Senate. Exactly $0 are coming from the executive operations accounts.

This is OK, though – the money is going to Sen. Stephen Wallace’s “senate project,” even though the project is being primarily carried out by a division of Programs & Services. Whatever. So what is the money going towards? It’s going to the prize, and it’s also going to running the competition. Unlike Sen. Weingartner, Sen. S. Wallace didn’t itemize the spending request, so it’s unclear exactly where this money will end up. Yet if it is being devoted entirely to the prize, this raises the question – why not just reduce the prize to $750?

Last year, the vote approving this spending would have been unanimous, so there’s solace in that. Unfortunately, the spending still passed, 5-3 with two abstentions. The complete vote breakdown:

ATJIAN – AYE

BRATT – ABSTAIN

BROOKS – NAY

DAVIDSON – AYE

QUILLIN – AYE

RUIZ – NAY

D. WALLACE – NAY

S. WALLACE – AYE

WEINGARTNER – ABSTAIN

YAMAGUCHI – AYE

Other notes (but actually somewhat important this time):

SSFAB Shenanigans. It should come as no surprise that the vice-chair of the SSF Board is Ryan Klenke – Freshman Class Council Alum, former ASUA Senate candidate, and current Diversity Director. It should be somewhat surprising that the board worked on a “program alteration request” relating to the Women’s Resource Center – and rarely are these “alterations” needed to reduce the allocated amount. More on this as soon as we can get information.

Freshman Fee. As if the SSF wasn’t enough anti-democracy for one day, Sen. Yamaguchi had to drop the bombshell that the Freshman Fee allocation process will be run by the Freshman Class Council. Not only does this give allocation power to a body whose previous main role was designing and requesting funding for a Homecoming float, but it also gives the power to the wrong people. The application for the council this year was due September 4 – literally two weeks after the start of classes, and long before any worthwhile understanding of the university was realized. Such a grant of power simply codifies the de facto elite class.

Student Regent Selection. As per student government tradition, the “student regent” is being selected in a manner that completely excludes any student body input. So far, we don’t even know the names of the candidates, but hopefully the pledge for transparency will extend to this process as well.

But, hey, don’t let this report get you down – after all, it’s your student government!

The Oasis Program was established to provide a variety of services to UA students, staff, and faculty (men, women, and transgendered persons) who are impacted by sexual assault, relationship violence, and stalking. The Oasis Program is a unit of Campus Health Service and is an active partner with Tucson community service agencies. Together with our campus and community partners we strive to provide coordinated responses to, and work toward the prevention of, all forms of interpersonal violence.

ASUA Senate Meeting, 9/9/09

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 9 September 2009

Slow meeting, a marked change from the furious debate in the last two meetings.

1. Vets. According to Duan Copeland, who presented this informational item on behalf of the Student Veterans Association, a full 10 percent of incoming students this year (not incoming freshmen) are veterans. This is a fairly sobering statistic, in light of the current administration’s policy when it comes to the war in Afghanistan. At any rate, the new resource center is camped out near CSIL, rather than Old Main.

2. WRC Film Series. Just as last week’s presentation from ASA involved a specific event rather than a broad “what we do” overview, this week the delegration from the Women’s Resource Center did not once mention their 27-page report on their future. Instead, the presenters focused on the Film Series, which is “the biggest program that [the WRC] has.” Thus we received a full preview of the series’ upcoming films; unfortunately, the feature film was ‘Adjournment.’ Among these was “Passion and Power,” a documentary covering the history of the vibrator. This will be followed by a ‘Passion Party’, that will “probably” involve collaboration with the Pride Alliance.

Other notes from the meeting:

-Sen. Atjian II promised that “we’re going to get something done on textbooks.” It’ll be very curious to see what metrics the Senate plans on using, seeing how otheraccomplishments” on textbooks have been entirely unsubstantiated.

-Wallace the Younger (Sen. D. Wallace) turned Wallace the Elder’s (Sen. S. Wallace) “disappointment” back on him, expressing his dissatisfaction with the Senate’s approval of his item at an internal meeting before turning on it in public.

– Over 180 freshman applied for the Freshman Class Council. The future, it beckons.

“3 swords, 3 helmets, 2 shoes. Will all of these be in the Tornado?” — ASUA Meeting 7

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 9 October 2008

So of course, the main story from yesterday’s ASUA meeting was the painfully vapid dispute over expenses for ASUA’s Homecoming float, produced by the Freshman Class Council. And while the issue in of itself is “full of sound and fury/signifying nothing,” it helps to illustrate some basic principles of how ASUA actually operates.

First, though, a brief summary of the issue. Traditionally, the FCC has traditionally been assigned the role of designing the ASUA float for the homecoming parade, which  manages to teach the essential skills of leadership and exterior design. The FCC presents the budget for the float before the ASUA Senate, who then decide how much to ultimately allocate. This year, the FCC requested $1200 for the float, and “only” received $850. Here’s what we learned:

1. The Ruling Class: There is no better display of the incestuousness of ASUA than the freshman class council. Six out of the ten sitting Senators are FCC alumni. VPs Anderson and Patel were both members as well. President Tommy Bruce waxed nostalgic about his FCC presentation, so many years ago. The Elections Commissioner who composed last year’s draconian Election Code, Amy Adamcin, is the current FCC director.

Folks, the revolving door doesn’t simply apply to the government in Washington; it also happens right here in Tucson. This is why the motto of “YOUR student government” rings so falsely; it is in fact the government of a striving pseudo-ruling class, colluding for the  purpose of padding resumes and allocating funds, many of which go right back to these selfsame individuals.

2. Porkies! In his seminal anti-ASUA piece, Connor Mendenhall noted that, “Many students interested in future political careers are involved in ASUA. Unfortunately, our student government sends them a terrible message: government is about creating programs and allocating other people’s money.” And while ASUA cements these principals, you can see it in foetus  as the FCC prepares to dole out YOUR student money for a pair of fog machines, and allocates $275 of your student dollars for T-shirts. . . for the FCC itself.

There were some paeans given to fiscal responsibility, and it should be noted that the Senate did force the funding. But there were also some very bad ideas that need to be highlighted. Primary among these was the defense of a $1,000 spending cap, offered by Sen. MacKenzie: “Whatever is not spent, will be given back. . . . Don’t be afraid to give them more money.” This argument has actually been used verbatim by earmark kings and queens in the Beltway, who claim that, “That amount is the money authorized, not the money spent.” This naturally begs the question — where does the other money go? Contra MacKenzie, I don’t this money will “just come back”, and certain expenses will “arise” (another point brought up by the Senate), such as brand name clothing or paint. Furthermore, suppose the FCC goes hog-wild with the rest of the funds. What then? “Shame on you?” It’s a little late at that point.

(The title is in reference to the sickly-sweet nickname for FCC members. Your author humbly offers this nickname as an alternative.)

3. Journalism 101. I’ve tried to avoid discussing issues involving the Wildcat, for reasons both personal and aesthetic. However, the paper’s article on the ASUA meeting offers a nice example of how not to write objectively:

After more disagreement, Sen. Emily Fritze entered the conversation as the voice of reason.

4. Abolish the FCC? I know anarchism is almost becoming clichè (that’s an odd phrase to write), but not only is it more feasible than a complete ASUA shutdown, it will probably result in a lot more instantaneous good. This is the training ground for the kind of ASUA members we’ve had; this is why UA doesn’t see a whole lot of variety in ASUA representation. Eliminating the FCC, in my humble opinion, would lead to a far greater variety of Senate and executive candidates — because no one would get a bump from being on the ASUA fast-track, the nominees would come from all sorts of different places; more importantly, the winners would as well.

It’s also worth considering the ostensible reason for the FCC’s existence: to represent the freshman class. But wait — ASUA represents the entire student body. Why isn’t there, say, a Sophomore Class Council? One may argue that freshman aren’t able to walk onto the University as Senate members, and thus are denied representation. Yet if being condescended to by overly nostalgic higher-ups (VP Anderson’s fawning was particularly grating) and designing floats counts as “representation”, perhaps it’s time for an (freshman) class uprising.

-The Notehall resolution passed, declaring that: “RESOLVED: ASUA supports NoteHall.” This is, in short, a statement of sentiment, kind of like the absurd resolutions Congress will pass from time to time condemning so and so or praising the Heroic Six-Pack of the week. This clearly wasn’t the subsidy that I feared, but I still question the motive behind it. But hey, it’s their business, and I wish them the best of luck, even with the anchor of the ASUA logo tied around their neck.

–News Flash: Apparently the “B” in LGBTQA stands for “bi-affectionate”, not bisexual. If you want pointers on how to turn a legitimate social movement into a parody of itself, this is a good place to start.

– UA Votes is still waiting on numbers, but it sounds like it’ll be around 4,000. The “Education Phase” is coming up next, so this blog will be on the lookout for that.

Special Election 2008: Debate Reaction

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 10 September 2008

Tonight marked the first (and, presumably, only) debate between the two candidates for the ASUA Senate seat vacancy, Andre Rubio and Dominick Plado. Background coverage on the two candidates can be read here. The debate was surprisingly interesting; however, by the end, the options presented were ultimately disappointing.

The debate broke down into a dichotomy that may sound very familiar: Andre Rubio cited his experience as a cabinet member under Tommy Bruce, while Dominick Plado emphasized his outsider status, and his ability to be bring a fresh perspective and change to ASUA. Experience v. Change. Hmm.

As the debate wore on, Plado’s sentiment against the status quo in ASUA increased to a fever pitch. He started by relating a nickname I’d personally never heard of AEUA — the Associated Elites of the UA, then detailing how he left after a month as a senate aide because he felt, “as though I didn’t mater.” Then, when asked about his qualifications, he segued from his work on RHA to a scathing denunciation of the Greek influence on ASUA, claiming that, “no offense, but all Senators. . . well, everyone, except for Gabby [Ziccarelli] is a member of a social Greek organization.” Almost immediately, one of the ASUA members exclaimed, “That’s not true!” A small back-and-forth went off, with the conclusion that Plado was wrong (Baker, for one, is not in Greek life), but the angry reaction is very telling.

He built on this to echo Rosie Reid-Correra’s own proposal of restructuring ASUA to have one representative from each college, rather than a free-for-all election for all the seats. In fact, at 10:54 this evening, Reid-Correa endorsed Plado on his Facebook group, saying that, “I support Dominick to take on what what used to be MY senate seat.” I can’t definitively comment whether or not this is a good idea (more on that forthcoming), but it is a proposal outside of the mainstream of “more safety and sustainability.”

Yet ultimately, I found that the outsider message fell flat. For one, he’s been heavily involved with RHA, an organization with many of the same issues as ASUA, only that is represents a smaller population, and brings less to the table, never mind its uselessness to the relatively high proportion of students living off-campus. By the end, Plado seemed to back away from his earlier fire, saying unequivocally that he would continue to try to be involved in ASUA, that ASUA is a “great organization,” and that he isn’t promising to make everything different, but is just, “trying to make ASUA ‘your’ student government.” Somehow, I feel like I’ve heard this before.

In comparison to Plado, Rubio exerted a sort of familiarity and coolness in the debate. He is ASUA through-and-through, and never let us forget the fact. He has also been involved with the New Start program, as well as the AEUA finishing school Freshman Class Council. Plado became a bit wishy-washy on how serious he was about shaking ASUA up, but Rubio stuck with “experience” — I recorded the word on half of his responses, and I probably missed a few of them. Nowhere, however, was this argument more obvious than in his closing statement– “Dominick has been out the last couple of weeks, getting signatures, figuring out what students need,” he said, “but I’ve been out there for the past year.” Rubio attempted to channel some of the “new perspective” energy of Plado, but I’m skeptical that, after working under Bruce for such a period of time, he would suddenly become a contrarian voice in the Senate.

Ultimately, the election leaves us with an unsatisfactory choice. Rubio’s candidacy offers a qualified manager, well-versed in the ins and outs of the ASUA system, but unlikely to offer anything outside of the trope that we’ve heard for the past two weeks. Plado offers some platitudes towards a genuinely alternative outlook, but ultimately is unresolved towards any sort of serious opposition and ultimately focuses on the same themes as everyone else.

Since this isn’t the Wildcat, I have no obligation to endorse. So I won’t.

——

A few random notes:

– With only one podium available at a far corner, the candidates had to alternately stand up and sit down to respond to questions, a set-up that proved to be fairly awkward. Meanwhile, the questioners sat at a long table in the center, facing away from the audience. In terms of presentation, it would have made much more sense to have the candidates seated at the table, and put the questioner in the far podium.

– Speaking of the questions, a solidly mediocre moderating job by President Tommy Bruce. A lot of generic questions (“What makes you qualified?”; “What does ‘your student government mean to you?”), and then the all-to-cliche stupid question — in this case, “What type of sandwich would you be, and why?” Rubio had the good sense to call this for what it is, answering that, “A BLT. . . it’s not relevant to my candidacy, but. . .”

Also, when it came to the audience-generated-questions round, Bruce seemed to let two fairly slanted questions go by: One, directly to Plado, asked, “Why do you feel that all members of ASUA are narrow minded?” (to be fair, he did say that, but this very much the “gotcha” game on the national level that got so much bad press), while another started off, “While national trends are important, the specific needs of the UA are most important.” This was a clear reference to Plado’s role as the UA’s representative to the national RHA conference. I can understand why these questions were offered (the crowd mostly consisted of ASUA members), but that doesn’t mean that the moderators can’t exercise a little discretion.

– I have nothing more to say about their platforms than what I said before. Plado’s are slightly preferable, if only because they are more likely to happen and will have a slight impact. Yet both focused on the sustainability canard, even as the UA is already cited as one of the most sustainable campuses in the country. Ultimately, both offer very little in the way of interesting policies.