Escape the Slates

 

Forget blue and gold — UCSD is seeing teal. The slate Keep it Real took the 2013–2014 A.S. Council elections by a landslide, winning president and two out of three vice-presidential positions. All five of their campuswide senatorial candidates also gained seats. With slate head Andrew Buselt soon to spearhead council as A.S. president, Keep it Real is in a position of immense power. While we applaud them for performing an almost clean sweep of the election, we hope that they will now put student before political interests as they take their next steps — namely in choosing which associate vice presidents to appoint to the A.S. cabinet.

Under the president and three vice presidents, eleven AVPs oversee specialized departments which range from Academic Affairs and Student Organizations, to Local Affairs and Concerts and Events. AVPs are non-voting members of council, and each receives a compensation package of around $3,500. Selection committees for these AVPs are assembled randomly from members of the newly elected senate and ex-officio representatives. These panels interview each AVP candidate, vote and then offer recommendations to the executives in charge of each AVP’s office. The newly elected executive can choose to accept or veto these recommendations.

With Keep it Real candidates dominating the new senate, they will also logistically make up the bulk of each selection committee. We ask that, in the best interest of the student body, Keep it Real throw all slate politics out the window now that campaign season is over (and people’s shirt choices reflect nothing beyond their color preferences) and select AVPs without any thought to what flag applicants sailed under during elections. AVPs should be chosen based on candidates’ individual qualities and experiences, not on slate loyalties or personal friendships.

On the slate’s Facebook page, Keep it Real states that one of their missions is to diversify council with leaders from various backgrounds and experiences. They write that they strive to have a slate and councils that “don’t necessarily have to agree on everything 100%, but are willing to be agreeable and work toward concrete solutions.” We hope that in line with this promise, they won’t automatically usher friends into office. Fresh faces will be a welcome break for council, but selection committees need to make sure that they focus on whether candidates will bring to office experience and concrete, workable ideas for improving student life. Elections have been known to be catty, with candidates from opposing slates often crossing the lines of proper election conduct. A total of 24 election grievances were filed five from Keep it Real alone. However, in good faith for the rest of us, any bad feelings harbored against rivals from election season should be left behind in the dust.

In past years, strong council candidates who did not get elected typically apply to become AVPs. These candidates are usually the most promising options. We interviewed each and every one of the presidential, vice-presidential and campuswide senatorial candidates — excluding two who couldn’t meet with us due to time conflicts — for this past election, and we know for a fact that there are some wildly qualified AVP candidates out there. A.S. presidential candidates Sammy Chang and Courtney Hill, as well as vice-presidential candidate Leonard Bobbitt, were all AVPs this past year in the president’s office. Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Snook also served as an AVP under the office of Student Life. Each did a phenomenal job in office, and their institutional knowledge would be a huge asset to council (although Chang and Bobbitt are due to graduate), especially since it will take time for the newly elected councilmembers to learn the ropes. If any AVP incumbents reapply for their positions or go for another AVP spot, they will be clear front-runners.

At a critical moment for our campus when we are dealing with the transportation crisis, problems with UCEN funding and the threat of rising SHIP costs, partisan politics is not what A.S. Council needs. We hope that the new councilmembers will keep this in mind.