SG elections offer students opportunity to serve University

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Santiago Rosales addresses the SG assembly on Nov. 30, 2016. Rosales encourages students who wish to be part of next year’s assembly to file to run before Feb. 14. 

Photo Credit: Chase Karacostas | Daily Texan Staff

For the last 115 years, Student Government has been the official voice of students to University administrators, the Board of Regents and the Texas Legislature. Over those 115 years, leaders in SG have worked with administrators and elected officials to transform the culture and landscape of the 40 Acres.

From a physical standpoint, SG has changed a lot. In the 1990s, SG representatives worked with the Texas Legislature to fund and build the Student Services Building. In 2006, SG helped finalize the campaign advocating for the construction of the Student Activity Center. In 2015, SG leaders successfully lobbied to remove the Jefferson Davis statue from the Main Mall.

This mission to serve students also extends into the world of advocacy. In 2012, Student Government lobbied for and secured funding for 24/7 hours at the Perry-Castaneda Library and in 2015, secured funding for 24/5 hours at the Flawn Academic Center. Since 2011, Student Government has worked with the Senate of College Councils and the Graduate Student Assembly to represent students at the State Capitol. Since earlier than that, Student Government has worked with the City of Austin — the E-Bus is just one success from years of advocacy.

With a rich history in advocacy, you’d think SG would be an organization everyone would want to join. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Years of scandalous elections and infighting have affected the reputation of SG to the point that many students consider the organization ineffective at representing students.

But SG’s past does not have to be its future. Every spring, students have an opportunity to elect a new student body president and vice president and a new class of representatives. During that same time period, every student at UT has an opportunity to run to be a part of that class of new representatives. And unlike politics outside of campus, many positions in SG go uncontested or unfilled every year — which means anyone has a reasonable chance to be elected.

While being elected is only one of many steps to effect change at UT, becoming a representative gives students a platform. Representatives can use their platforms to advocate for change, to speak out against discrimination and to hold administrators accountable for providing a world-class education for all Longhorns. 

In my op-ed last semester, I wrote about how the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu administration made students wonder “What Starts Here?” and successfully channeled that curiosity into tangible changes at UT. Just as I implored then, I will encourage you now to ask yourself this question. Once you find your answer, sign up as a candidate and run. The best advocate for your ideas and your passions will always be you. And that chance of making a difference on this campus is all the reason in the world to run.

For this upcoming year, there are 46 seats available (listed out by college below). To file to run, visit the Student Government office (SAC 2.102) before Tuesday, Feb. 14 at noon.

Architecture — 1

Business — 3

Communication — 2

Education — 1

Engineering — 3

Fine Arts — 1

Geosciences — 1

Law — 1

Liberal Arts — 6

Medical — 1

Natural Sciences — 6

Nursing — 1

Pharmacy — 1

Public Affairs — 1

Social Work — 1

Undergraduate Studies — 1

At-Large Graduate — 2

Graduate — 5

University-Wide — 8

Rosales is a finance junior from Houston. He is the speaker of the SG Assembly.