Bean at Tail End of Three-Peat

    If a three-peat defines a sports dynasty, Donna Bean is on
    the tail end of a political dynasty — one that has often tread into new
    territory for student government. As this year’s lone A.S. presidential
    candidate, the Student Voice! leader will presumably be the slate’s third
    consecutive chief to occupy the office and continue a political period that saw
    renovations of the A.S. constitution, the Sun God Festival and Price
    Center
    .

    But innovation has stoked uncertainty: As the first
    councilmembers to employ former A.S. President Harry Khanna’s constitution,
    this year’s politicians were what Bean called “guinea pigs;” complete
    operational reformation of the campus’ flagship event has bred caution as it
    returns for its 26th run this May; and protests over the campus’ political
    representation of students have flared up in several communities, from Thurgood
    Marshall College to the RIMAC Annex.
    Bean will inherit an extended history, but also looming problems.

    In 2006, Khanna, an Earl
    Warren College

    alumnus and founding member of the SV! slate, molded today’s configuration of
    the A.S. Council, a move that drew both relief and criticism. Khanna’s
    structure downsized college senators’ powers and consolidated many of the
    council’s departments under a trio of vice presidents.

    This year, Bean was the first full-term vice president of
    student life, overseeing the departments of programming, diversity affairs and
    athletic relations. Bean’s term was lively within those divisions. Administrators
    and student officials teamed to re-evaluate and rebuild the Sun God Festival.
    Also, the athletics department put to work a windfall of referendum money it
    received the previous year by student vote.

    Aside from the progress forged by SV!, Bean lamented bumps
    the council has encountered.

    “There are some kinks to be worked out,” she said of the
    constitution.

    Some of the problems stem from broken links, according to
    Bean. While the installment of academic senators allowed students to identify
    with their politicians by areas of study instead of by college, the prominence
    of student groups is unbalanced between the divisions. While physical and biological science
    senators have established resources such as the Triton Engineering Student
    Council, social science senators lack a similar support base. The problem, Bean
    said, illustrates that the disconnect between UCSD voters and politician still
    exists — one that she would like to bridge in her presidency.

    And although she lauds the new constitution’s benefits, she
    also expressed a strong desire to move past its implementation stage. She said
    she plans to revisit the document to “hammer out” lingering constitutional
    issues by fall 2008.

    “A lot of times it’s a lot easier for organizations to just
    focus internally,” she said.

    “[They] do a lot of revisions and feel like they
    accomplished something when really they didn’t do anything but waste time on
    internal revisions.”

    Of the three original principles of SV! — college
    accessibility, campus climate and student political power — Bean is most
    vehement about student representation. Students not only lack control over
    their own resources, she said, but wield little political power on vital campus
    committees. The majority of the committees have only one student representative,
    and even those select few have difficulty staying involved because
    unaccommodating staff and administration.

    “Students don’t check their e-mails every … second,” she
    said. “There have been so many times where I barely get an e-mail about scheduling
    … the next hour or two and I have class. That’s a critical flaw.”

    Student members are often overlooked within committees, Bean
    said. TMC drew fire this past year when students decried the addition of a
    non-voting student to a committee selecting the college’s next dean. Bean also
    fingered the Transportation Policy Committee as problematic, as only two of the
    nine representatives are undergraduates.

    “Students are invited to those committees but they really
    have no input,” she said. “They allow the students to sit on the committees but
    they don’t ever really listen to their input.”

    Bean’s SV! slate aims to change the campus’ attitude to its
    students by making their collaborative voice heard, Bean said.

    But if the origins of SV! are any indication of the slate’s
    ability to fuse different campus communities, Bean will absorb support from a
    wide and varied selection of student groups. SV! politically consolidated two
    of the previous year’s slates, Revolution! and Student Empowerment! and united
    the campus’ largest voting bases, the former serving Greek constituents and the
    latter representing diversity and outreach interests. The process of nominating
    a SV! presidential candidate involves a coalition of student officials,
    including the Student Affirmative Action Committee and Interfraternity Council.

    The goal, Khanna said, was to ensure the slate’s longevity
    and preserve its ideology.

    “We wanted, as a slate, to be able to a long-term vision and
    set of principles that future slate members could follow,” he said.

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