Last month, the originally satirical Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu were swept into office as student body president and vice president, respectively. In doing so, they pledged to shake up Student Government and offer a much-needed respite from the “more of the same” complacent attitude that has admittedly plagued SG for many years.
However, in the brief time since taking office, Rotnofsky and Mandalapu have done their best to assimilate into the unique SG atmosphere and continue many of the troubling traditions of their predecessors. This was put on full display when the new administration recently made their new staff picks. Nearly all of those selected are, like Rotnofsky and Mandalapu, students in the Plan II program. If SG was exclusive before, now it is a downright private club. And while we admire the open-mindedness in bringing on former supporters of the Jones/Dargahi ticket — Taral Patel, specifically, as chief of staff is perhaps the one smart pick — the new administration appeared to simply pluck its appointees straight from that same, predictable group of sycophants that the majority of the University’s electorate evidently dislikes about Student Government.
This same appropriation of historic Student Government norms was also evident recently when the new Student Government Assembly considered A.R. 3, the contentious divestment from Israel bill that ultimately failed. Rotnofsky, who would have had the power to veto the bill should it have passed, was totally silent on the topic and offered no leadership, guidance or semblance of his own position on the controversial topic. As opponents of the asinine resolution, we would have preferred for him to oppose it, but any position would have spoken louder than his silence.
The University elected Rotnofsky and Mandalapu in order to shake things up and move in a constructive new direction from the failures of previous administrations. Undoubtedly, that new direction includes being willing to take a stand on issues instead of trying to equivocate and please everyone. Rotnofsky and Mandalapu rightly chastised one of their opponents for waffling on the important campus carry issue; it is the height of hypocrisy for them to engage in the same tactics after taking office.
While the new administration joked on the campaign trail about forcing out President William Powers Jr., the reality is that a new president — Gregory Fenves — will be taking the reins in just a little more than a month. Rotnofsky and Mandalapu were elected in a unique position to be a force to be reckoned with by the University administration, but only if they hold fast to their key tenet of being different. Right now, they just simply seem like more of the same.