Editor’s Note: As candidates in other races, associate editors Alexander Chase and Mary Dolan recused themselves from the editorial decisions to endorse candidates for the positions of executive alliance and University-wide representative.
Inevitably, when the time for campus-wide elections rolls around each year, the irritation of many students is palpable on a campus otherwise occupied by campaign teams staked out in full. Before campaigning began, we believed our voices would join the communal groan of an apathetic student body.
But after considering the Daily Texan-hosted candidate debate, the editorial board’s interviews with the candidates and the candidate endorsement questionnaires, it became clear that the University is fortunate to have four different teams in the race who sincerely aspire to lead the student body and contribute to its good.
The alliance of Daniel James Chapman and Austin James Robinson, while using humor in their campaign, have what this editorial board determined to be the most ambitious and comprehensive platform, demonstrating that this tuned-in alliance has the policy fluency to contribute more than just laughs to Student Government.
The alliance of Jonathan Dror and Delisa Shannon contribute enthusiasm through their spirit- and engagement-oriented platform, earnestly endeavoring to improve students’ experience and involvement on the 40 Acres.
But, the substantial merits of both the Chapman-Robinson and Dror-Shannon campaigns do not prevent two candidacies from standing out: the alliances of Kallen Dimitroff-Jesse Guadiana and Kevin Helgren-Binna Kim.
Dimitroff, who first became involved in Student Government in the fall of 2012, has a record of service that speaks for itself. She was the most effective University-wide representative in the 2015–2016 Student Government Assembly. Guadiana also has an outstanding record of service through his work in traditionally underserved communities as a leader in the Multicultural Engagement Center and its related agencies. Their partnership unites Dimitroff’s effectiveness within the establishment with his fresh perspective to form a formidable alliance.
Dimitroff and Guadiana have a long list of worthy goals. Notable among these are beginning a retreat in the mold of Camp Texas for first-generation students, securing a permanent endowment for Voices Against Violence and challenging Aramark’s concerning hold on our campus’s food.
The Helgren-Kim alliance offers a fundamentally different vision of student governance and advocacy. Introducing their alliance to the University through their popular “Share Your Story” social media campaign, it would be easy to mistake Helgren-Kim as a small-scale Humans of New York that confuses conversation with policy changes. But this would be a mistake.
The selling point of Helgren-Kim, who have a relatively narrow yet viable platform, is the culture change they aspire to create within Student Government. While Dimitroff-Guadiana have also spoken about the problems that have dwindled both student interest and faith over the years, Helgren-Kim is the only team that prioritizes combating the caustic culture that poisons Student Government.
When casting your vote this year and choosing between two well-qualified teams, this election will be more an indication of what students are looking for from SG.
If you believe that Student Government should be a vehicle for passing legislation that will add to student life, vote for Dimitroff-Guadiana. More than any other team, students can trust Dimitroff-Guadiana to devote their time and resources to accomplish policy points.
But, if you want to see a greater culture change within Student Government, vote for Helgren-Kim. Despite neither possessing Dimitroff’s successful legislative record and Guadiana’s large-scale student leadership experience, they can be most reasonably entrusted to make internal changes that will empower the organization to better represent students in the future and restore student confidence and interest.
Can a culture change be quantifiably measured? Probably not. But it is the opinion of this Editorial Board that before Student Government can be truly effective, this change must take place. For that reason, we endorse Helgren-Kim.
This Editorial Board agrees that students need a significant culture change from the next executive alliance. The unprecedented success of Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu last year demonstrated students’ desire for a Student Government shake up and willingness to vote for it. Students have the chance to fully realize what began last year through a better developed and motivated team.
Voting in campus-wide elections will take place from 8 a.m. on Wednesday, March 2, through 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, online at www.utexasvote.org.