Devil’s Advocate: Student representation requires active participation in USGD elections


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The executive ticket of Ryan Leith, Jackson Dangremond and Jade Nicole Yeban (left to right) are the only candidates running for executive office this year. (Courtesy of Jackson Dangremond)
The executive ticket of Ryan Leith, Jackson Dangremond and Jade Nicole Yeban (left to right) are the only candidates running for executive office this year. (Courtesy of Jackson Dangremond)

Among the many thrills of March such as spring break and March Madness, there is another perhaps even more important event for the students of Arizona State University that can sometimes be overlooked.

The elections for both the Undergraduate Student Government Downtown and the Graduate and Professional Student Association will be taking place this March 28 and 29, and the candidates vying to represent us students are finally public for a mere 17 days to work to gain our votes.

Facebook pages are up, people are on Taylor Mall and there is that unique mix of excitement and nerves at the open forum this past week.

However, it admittedly can feel difficult for candidates and even uneventful for students, especially as we are in our third year of uncompetitive executive elections and are again faced with only one competitive senatorial election after one of the three Barrett, the Honors College candidates dropped out.

In such a race, does your vote count? As a candidate, does it make sense to spend $250 to purchase lawn signs or treats to share out on Taylor Mall when the weather heats up to 90 degrees as you frantically attempt to talk to many students who honestly would rather not hear from you as they meander to and from their classes?

Yes, because that’s the best thing we can do.

In truth, USGD is a very fragile organization because its power is derived from one thing and one thing alone: how much students want something.

When we were denied a ticketing booth for ASU football, students from across this campus worked with four successive administrations to make sure the ASU administration kept its word.

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When students in a poll voted 60 percent to 40 percent expressing concern against legislation that would allow guns on campus, USGD took those concerns along with other student governments to the capitol and helped stop the legislation moving forward while being thoroughly dressed down by legislators during the debate.

When student organizations want to host the amazing events that introduce students to their future careers, friends and sometimes even families, USGD helps make it happen by being a steward of student activity funds.

Unfortunately though, we don’t always get what we want. Our representatives are working consistently to make sure student interests are heard in weighty issues such as the tuition setting process, the consideration of new fees and the perennial problem of parking.

In those conversations it is a lonely position to be a USGD member, and it is only made worse if an ASU administrator, City of Phoenix staffer or state legislator can make the credible comment that students just don’t seem to care about these issues. It’s rarely that we don’t care; it’s that we are so busy trying to change the world in our own ways that taking the risk to sit through meetings for such a long shot is plainly unappealing.

But somebody has to care and take that shot in the dark. And those somebodies are your USGD members.

Over two and a half years of service to the students, I’ve had my heart sink low in defeat and I’ve soared into the sky with a hop of happiness at victory in my two elections.

Now, as my last days as an undergraduate come to a close, I am proud to vote on March 28 and 29 to show administrators that students care about how their universities are run and to show USGD that students expect the best representation they can provide.

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