Editor, Daily Nexus,
I miss a lot of things about Santa Barbara. The drama in Associated Students is not one of them.
I think it would be most productive to ask the question, “How do things get to be this way?” The answer is not simple, but based on my prior experience, I think I have a good idea about what is responsible for a large piece of it.
The A.S. elected positions currently consist of four executive officers and 24 legislative council members. The established A.S. parties usually have great difficulty finding people to run for every one of those seats. As has happened for the past several years, the established folks spend most of winter quarter duking it out over who will run for each of the executive positions, and when the dust settles, they find themselves with two weeks or less to find 28 qualified people to fill the seats. What you end up with is a slate filled mostly with friends recruited at the last minute.
The result is many of these people do not realize what they are getting into. This is not to knock anyone who has run or served; virtually all of them have wanted to do something to better their community, but many of these people haven’t been given all of the information that they really needed in order to appropriately consider whether or not to run for office.
And what happens when these people get elected? They find out that the assurances the party leaders had given them turned out to be inaccurate. There are a number of resignations. Others flail blindly against social injustices that they have no power to right. They raise student fees by $100 a quarter through slimy fee increases. They threaten to censor the Nexus and freeze money that they are not legally allowed to touch. The organization loses credibility in the eyes of the very people it is supposed to represent, because it doesn’t exactly represent them anymore.
There is a solution to this problem. Run for a seat. Seize your government, Gauchos, it is yours for the taking.