In a recent staff editorial, “Tell Us What’s Going On!,” the Editorial Board criticized the Student Union (SU) for failing to effectively communicate with the student body. And, at first sight, SU candidates Keiran Carpen and Jonathan Aung seem committed to the idea of improving communication: ranging from hosting open Executive Council meetings to giving the Student Leadership Team (SLT) representative his/her own email, the reforms proposed by the two appear to be sweeping and comprehensive.
In addition, Carpen claims that his experience as SU Vice President has allowed him to build rapport with the administration—a rapport that would help enable the SU in its role as an advocate for student interests. But because the administration has demonstrated an interest in cultivating relationships with all student leaders, any ticket that is elected will be able to build rapport with the administration quickly if it chooses to do so.
The creation of the Spirit Council, a body that meets with the principal to discuss and enact ways to improve school spirit, by an ordinary student illustrates this principle. Thus, we shouldn’t focus on Carpen’s current relationship with the administration, but instead on whether or not we see him and Aung as leaders who can make change.
Carpen’s poor track record as Vice President and Aung’s lack of experience with the SU lead us to believe that they will unlikely follow up on their ambitious platform if elected. Poor communication is just one of the many shortcomings of our current SU—a weak and ineffective one that is partially headed by Carpen. And, ultimately, the Editorial Board cannot place its faith in a presidential candidate who was unable to lobby for student interests and follow through on his promises in the past.
Some of the ideas that Carpen and Aung have offered in their platform were ones that were a part of Carpen’s platform last year—the problem is that these ideas weren’t executed once Carpen came to power as Vice President.
Carpen and Aung want to place a school calendar on the first floor that will display weekly and/or monthly schedules and to create an official SU events calendar, but a plan proposed earlier this year to have an electronic school calendar on the first floor was derailed by technical difficulties. Instead of seeking out more motivated and qualified individuals to replace the ones who failed in completing the project, SU president Eddie Zilberbrand and SU vice president Keiran Carpen just opted to let the task stall. Furthermore, Carpen and Aung’s promises to host more student events, along with the calendar proposal, was another idea that Zilberbrand and Carpen advocated for in their platform last year that we have yet to see be implemented.
Other ideas that Carpen and Aung support were ones the SU unsuccessfully proposed to the administration earlier this year. Carpen and Aung hope to create an official Survey Monkey account with the hopes of using it to poll the student body—but this very idea was proposed by Carpen to the administration and rejected. Carpen believes that, if elected, he and Aung will be able to use money from the SU budget to pay a fee and create the account. But this illustrates a telling incongruity: if the SU had the option of buying this account earlier, why didn’t it do so? Why wait until next year?
We believe that the less innovative outreach methods that Carpen and Aung promise to use—including using social media, sending mass messages through the school email system, and creating more positions in the SU—and the more innovative ones—including giving the SLT Representative his/her own email account and hosting monthly Executive Council meeting—have potential to improve communication between the SU and the student body, but don’t make for an original cornerstone of a campaign platform.
There is very little reason to believe that Carpen and Aung will change the status-quo and mold the Student Union into a more active body that will unfalteringly advocate for student interests. Their platform is incredibly generic and overarching, with very few specific policy changes they hope to push for, and the ones they did mention in our interview (free movie night, allotting more money to clubs and pubs, and keeping the SU office open to students) are not innovative. The Editorial Board is a strong proponent of changing the status-quo, so it has opted not to endorse the candidacy of Keiran Carpen and Jonathan Aung.