People always tell me not to take elections personally. “Tom,” they’ll say, “just run a decent campaign and don’t get too upset if things don’t work out.” Now, as I run for Student Government President against Melissa Dudra, my personal name and reputation, as well as the future of the role of the student body at this university hangs in the balance. And guess what: this election is as personal to me as any athletic competition is to an athlete; although instead of winning or losing say ten out of 15 games this season, I only have one shot. This election is my Stanley Cup, my Superbowl or World Series.
Foremost, however, this election is not about Tom Hyde or Melissa Dudra, it’s about the rights of the students to have a strong and articulate voice at the table when decisions are made. If elected, I cannot promise to change everything. I will, however, put myself on the line for each and every one of you every single day until changes take place that benefit the student body.
In between making and hanging campaign posters, traveling room to room to meet students, hearing complaints, and occasionally giving some, I will try to make the case that I am the best candidate for the position. Every room that I got to, every new face that I greet and every time I write one of these editorials, I am judged. Whether I’m trying to get cafeteria prices lowered, working on parking, dealing with student rights issues, fighting for more student input or asking people to fill out a survey about academic honesty on campus, my days are jam packed with student leadership activities. I will lose sleep, weight, tears and maybe even friends over this election. I will offend my family by being too busy while campaigning to call them at night, although they’re getting used to it by now. When I walk into my room at night, my roommates (and best friends) are thoughtful and supportive and will ask about my day and then listen attentively to my abbreviated and often exhausted recount.
The truth is that even though leadership is often about sacrifice, I love it. I love the fact that I can make changes when things are unfair. I love knowing that things are improving on campus at least partly because I helped them to. I love that we have a democratic process and that voters like you have a choice between candidates. I love the feeling of accomplishment we can all share when our efforts culminate in changes that are positive and beneficial.
There are real, substantive, important issues that need to be resolved at Quinnipiac. Currently, President Melissa Dudra is basically in charge of the “Suggestion Government,” not the Student Government. If the Faculty Senate wants to change the academic calendar, the grading system or requirements for majors, it could technically pass it on to the Board of Trustees without any input or oversight from Student Government. Theoretically, Residential Life could revert campus alcohol policies back to the archaic ways of the past without first asking SGA to vote on the changes. And if Student Affairs, the Bursar, President Lahey, Academic Affairs or any other party on campus wanted to mandate a change in the Student Handbook, there is no requirement to first receive student approval, even if the decision only affects students. SGA only has the power to suggest changes or give “input.” Frankly, we do not have enough power at this university and it is time for a change in the overall structure of authority.
Melissa Dudra has had a year in office to make these changes. Personally, she is an excellent friend of mine and a wonderful person to know. However, I cannot sit back and watch another year of wasted opportunities pass us by. After a year of having Dudra as President, we still do not have a breakdown of tuition that would list where all of our tuition money goes. We still do not have a student safe-ride program to drive students safely to and from all of their various locations: many other colleges and even some high schools provide this transportation. Parking on this campus is still a crisis that has not been effectively resolved.
Student organizations are not as well funded as we would all like to see and we have not gotten more students on the Board of Trustees, despite the continual increase in enrollment. We have built more dorms, we’ve built a bigger athletic center and we’ve built a nicer cafeteria, but we haven’t built more student power.
We as a student body have the ability to stand up for ourselves and make our $30,000 tuition count for something. We have a receptive administration and a team of professional SGA advisors that would be willing to help facilitate the kinds of changes that need to take place. Fundamentally, we need a Student Government President that can articulate a vision for the future, defend student rights and manage the organization efficiently, always bearing in mind the best interest of the students. If elected, I will hold regular meetings in the cafeteria to update students and receive input and suggestions. You will know my face and the faces of those who make decisions on your behalf. My vision is one of accountability and progress.
Remember these two words: acceptable and exceptional. If you don’t mind maintaining the status quo and that which is simply acceptable, I have an opponent. If you want your time here to be revolutionary and exceptional, elections are March 5th, and my name will be on the ballot.