Saturday, February 11, 2012
Brain Droppings About U of L's SGA Campaigns
What happened to John Weber, Abigail "Abby" Smith, Ben Donlon, and Alexandra "Alex" Millson? They ran for the Top 4 spot last year, at U of L, but have been nowhere near this year's SGA. While they did lose the election, I believe that by not allowing them to contribute into the system, since they have the passion, the will, and the intelligence to make a difference, to make some much needed changes, U of L's SGA was worse off because of it. This doesn't happen in Parliamentary Democracies...
...which most European countries have, including the Czech Republic, which is considered a better democracy than America, according to The Economist's "Democracy Index". Perhaps having some sort of "reaching" across the aisle isn't a bad idea, AFTER the election. Since they are intelligent folks, and ultimately, doing right by U of L's student body is the ultimate test for any SGA Administration. Perhaps, once the President is chosen, we as students could rally behind that person, IF they are the ones who will do the most for us, the students at U of L.
This last debate, held in the Humanities Building, on February 8, 2012, in that sweet auditorium, was filled lots of niceties. Everybody was agreeing with each other, were polite, cordial, almost borderline respectful, they shook each other's hands, said something nice about each other at the end of their debates... SGA... a clique? No! Say it ain't so!
None of them told the Truth about Tuition Increases. Even Max Morley's "Halftime" speech had him conceding that "nothing can be done about tuition right now", which isn't true. There is a vote coming up at a Board of Trustees meeting in June, at least it's usually the meeting in June, just like the Graduation Fee, where right after we've all graduated, the students get fucked. Also, I thought I heard somebody say that the tuition rates are directly connected with SGA student pay, which would make them economically tied to tuition, and it would be in their self-interests for it to rise. I could have heard wrong though.
I guess, ultimately, I want the strongest Progressive fascist there is. I want my candidate to care for working class people, and humanity, and the students, all of the oppressed, from the bottom of their soul, to be revolutionary, and to understand the importance of a permanent revolution up against the permanent corporate fascism that pervades all American life. I also heard that the next SGA President is going to CHAIR the Board of Trustee's meeting. If I heard this right, that is a HUGE deal, because that gives the student direct control over the agenda, and the entire flow, of the meeting. Like Michael Shoen's Parliamentarian position. While not elected, he was able to put himself in a spot that gave him influence. Whether he flexed that influence or not is on him, but he would know how to handle Chairing a Trustee's meeting, which doesn't matter, since he's running for Executive Vice President, the King of the President's Vice Presidential Staff, collectively known as the Executive Board.
Max Morley knows the system well. So does Travis Gault. Justin Brandt was in SGA for two years before skipping out this year, so I believe he'd know how to talk in the meetings, how to pass a Resolution, an Act, put an initiative into action, and make events, movements, campaigns... fireworks happens. The only person I don't like, is Austin Schwenker, who is running against Michael Shoen. Everybody else looks wonderful, and would be great choices for SGA. Austin Schhwenker, on the other hand, is a sniveling little rat, whose for more secrecy, and consolidation of corporate fascist power (like Cardinal Towne), by suggesting that more business should be decided before the public meeting, to make SGA meetings as efficient as possible. While this is an obvious idea for efficiency, it shows that he's more for consolidating the power base that he has already established as President of the Arts and Sciences Department (which has there own Constitution and by-laws, and how to do things, such as figuring out where to spend the student's money). When Austin Schwenker was asked if he was involved with Greek life, he not only refused to answer the question, but then engaged in a massive cover-up, by ordering all of the members of SGA, abusing his authority as President of the Arts and Science Student Council (which means he should represent me, since my Major IS Political Science), to make sure they keep silent about their Greek affiliation. I don't care for the secrecy, because what can be said behind closed doors can just as easily be said out in open doors... if we truly are for fairness and transparency, and while those word are coined during the campaign, I wonder how much transparency can be made by those who'd rather deal with folks behind closed doors. In fact, with the 19,000 students at U of L who don't even give a fuck to vote, even though it's conveniently right on their ULINK accounts, so it takes hardly any time at all... Kentucky's democracy has failed because there are no democratic institutions within higher learning institutions, such as U of L. As a student, however, in Arts and
Sciences, I have NOT been represented by the Schenker Administration, or anybody who has worked for him. In fact, it's been quite the opposite.
I told Travis Gault about my Student Complaints idea, and he liked it, where there would be one central hub for emails to be sent for students to bitch about whatever they wanted, but then he also suggested that the Ombudsman Office does that, so I'll find that out later. It's good to see more women in the process. If Carrie Mattingly and Sirena Wurth would just go around smiling at folks, I'm sure that would win them votes. A strong contrast between Sirena Wurth and Michael Rediker was that Michael Rediker said that he was willing to stand up to The Administration, and Sirena Wurth said that getting along and working well with The Administration was important, since they were "the ones with all the money", which carries over from a Frizzell the Great quote, from his impressive State of the University Address, where he said that power deals are made behind closed doors, with "men three times as old as you, and three times as wiser". While most of the dealings with The Administration shouldn't be a hassle, and can be based on friendly dialogue, and cordial relationships, there is still the fight in the person that matters. If you go into a meeting with an agenda of 10 items, you got to be aggressive and make sure that your agenda is heard. That willingness to break with the administration, say on matters that can be solved, such as the Tuition Hike Increase the Board of Trustees are going to raise on U of L students come this June, is vital. In fact, if the President becomes Chair of the Board of Trustees, then the SGA President should shoot any and all tuition rate hike increases straight into the shitter. It's not a non-starter, and it belongs in the shitter. U of L's tuition should NOT, in any way, increase. It's not a foregone conclusion. It's only a foregone conclusion to those who can dream of something that isn't. For those who were studying too hard in college to take the time out to dream, and wonder, and use your imagination. In fact, the way the police do it, is just demand somebody to do as they order, and if they don't like it, then you use force, and violence, and you bring in your pig friends, with batons, and guns, and you make sure nobody intervenes, and then you kidnap the guy, put him in your car, take him down to the station, where you book him, put him in jail, and then after that, you get the courts involved. So perhaps a situation should be created where saying "no" isn't an option. Having a Chair in the Board of Trustee's meeting would stop all talk about Tuition Hikes, unless the Chair sold the Students out, and allowed the vote to take place. Sirena Wurth also said that Sodexho was trying to get a monopoly over the Meal Plans, which are forced on our Tuition Bills, and put on our Student IDs. Sodexho will only allow our Food Cards to be used IF the companies who can use them buys into the plan Sodexho approves.
Something else I noticed, Travis Gault may have made a Freudian slip, when he said I "sometimes" listen to others, but corrected himself, and said that he "always" listens. Mr. Gault's key point was that he cared for Graduate Students, and since I am going to be a Graduate Student, that appeals directly to my self-interests. Osiah Graham versus Carrie Mattingly has all of the fun and excitement of Obama versus Hillary race, with a Black man running against a White woman. I believe that Osiah Graham would be a pitbull in the meeting rooms, and he was a confident, on-the-spot, speaker. Carrie Mattingly is dignified, poised, soft-spoken, so as an audience member, I trusted her, and believe that she'd make a wonderful Academic Vice President.
Looking at last year's election numbers, the Presidential Race got 2,500 votes, and the Senators got 5,000. More students voted for the Senators, overall, because the Senators would get their friends to vote for them, and that increased their numbers. But the Presidential Race is more instructive because overall, the campaign of the individual Senators fail to garner the publicity the Top 4 candidates, or Presidential candidates, garners. Kurtis Frizzell, before U of L's SGA stripped away the 37.05 votes (that's right, that's POINT zero five votes), received 970 votes. Then won in the runoff. John Weber got 772, and Travis Gault received 728. So we can assume that Travis Gault will receive about the same, 728, and Morley will get Frizzell's votes, 970, and that leaves John Weber's votes will be the votes who sway one way or another, assuming all of those who voted for John Weber are around. John Weber's votes, plus newcomers into the process, which is really the biggest constituency. Nearly 20,000 students at U of L can vote, and 2,500 of them did. So that's a 12.5% turnout rate, which is sickly compared to even Kentucky's extremely low 28%. While that's sad and unfortunate, it's more important than that. That's a democratically illigetimate authority. I guess, the wisdom is, if only 2 people votes for somebody, even if the 98 others didn't, and would have voted for different people, then the voters should get what they want. The horribly low voter turnout rate would be important work for future politicians and government operatives. Perhaps a survey can be put out to the students, asking them about their perceptions of SGA are, and see if there's any data that can be received from an outreach like that, that can be used to fixed that problem. Then Frizzell's slate handily defeated Weber's, by 200, 300, and 400 votes. So Frizzell's Greeks, and Weber's Greeks, are the ones who are getting what they want out of student government, because they're the only ones running for office, and partipating. But for those candidates running for President now, how Frizzell's machine was able to thump Weber's and Gault's is something that can be learned from. And while I can somewhat identify Frizzell's and Weber's voters, who is voting for Travis Gault? Graduate students? Folks who have been at the University for some time? I'm not sure.
Austin Schwenker won the Arts and Sciences position with only 461 votes, out of 827. So to become President of Arts and Sciences Student Council, all you need is less than 500 votes. And to become Senator, all you need are about 200, or so votes. I believe running for Senate is the easiest way to get into U of L's Student GOvernment since you don't have the pressure to lead, like a Presidential, or Executive Branch would, while at the same time, still need to pull 200 of your friends into the polls... or, AHEM, long onto their ULINK account, from the library, at home, really the convenience is all on the students, if they gave a fuck. It's easy. Just click onto your ULINK, and vote for me! That's would be an easy facebook group to make, and remind folks on how to do it. In fact, the Facebook Group is vital part to this process for that exact reason. 80% or so of the students who voted were from the Arts and Sciences College, and 80% of them were White.