ASUU Hits Half-Way Mark

On March 8, 1,635 students elected Ben Lowe and Mike Nelson as the president and vice president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah. They promised to better students lives, improve communication and run a “no bull” government.

In the spirit of such a government, let’s look at their campaign promises, see what they’ve accomplished, what they’ve neglected and what they’ve expanded on.

“We’ve learned a lot since we’ve been in office,” Lowe said. “We’ve looked back at some promises, and realized they’re not the best ideas. We’ve accomplished more than we thought we could accomplish.”

Personal Administration

Lowe and Nelson continuously talked about a “personal administration” during their campaign, promising students that they would visit clubs and organizations, and let them know about the available resources. According to Lowe, they have fulfilled this promise.

“We’re trying to really get out there and support their events,” Lowe said. “We need to get better, we always do.”

ASUU administrators have met with some clubs, but not others.

“The only help I’ve gotten from them is when I’ve gone and asked them for something,” said Deric van Bree, president of Best Buddies, a club organized to help people with mental retardation. ASUU has yet to meet with Best Buddies.

Jason Schafer, who presides over the American Meteorological Society has not observed any difference between this year’s administration and last, but is satisfied with the support of ASUU.

“I’ve always found them pretty helpful, asking them general questions about fund raising or advice,” he said.

According to Lowe, ASUU plans to visit each of the more than 200 clubs and organizations before the end of the Spring Semester.

Olympic Promises

While running for office, Lowe and Nelson emphasized Olympic ideas. In order to maximize the U’s benefit and involvement from this event, they proposed forming a cabinet position to work with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee to plan events and inform students about Olympic opportunities.

In September, ASUU and SLOC held an Olympic kickoff event, designed to promote student awareness about Games-time employment opportunities. The Olympic Activities Board also plans to hold an event for students the night of the Opening Ceremony.

According to Kevin Laska, who directs the Olympic board, 2,000 students will volunteer for the Olympics and 3,000 will work during the games.

“They’ve done a tremendous job, said Gwen Springmeyer, associate director of olympic coordination at the U. “They’ve been my resource. They’ve fulfilled my every wish, I couldn’t be happier with them.”

Senior Class Promises

The No Bull party wished to establish a fan club committee to promote school spirit at athletic events. The committee is still working to get better tickets for student fans. The committee also helped throw the ASUU sponsored tailgate party, which drew a small number of students, and worked with the Freshman Council to send 110 students to Las Vegas with the football team. Students will not see most of this committee’s work until next year, however.

“A lot of times you have to lay the groundwork for the year to come,” Lowe said.

Senior Class President AnnMarie Allen promised to help the Freshman Council become a stronger organization. After much summertime revamping and advertising, the Freshman Council received 412 applications from interested students. Allen finished interviews for the council in mid-September, and since then, the 31 member council held involvement activities under the name Freshman Fever Week, organized the trip to Las Vegas and called every freshman to notify them of campus events.

No Bull wanted to make the president of the Freshman Council a member of the Executive Cabinet but later changed its mind.

“They’re too young, they’ve done a ton this year, but not enough to warrant being on Executive Cabinet,” Allen said.

Residence Halls

The No Bull platform included many promises for the married student housing. These promises included three “family fun days” a year, rerouting the shuttle service to better serve married students, more ASUU publicity in student housing, a drop-in child care facility and “enhancement program classes” in the married student housing.

ASUU’s success on these promises is mixed.

ASUU members have not rerouted the shuttle service yet because they are waiting until after the Olympics, and the residence halls still sponsor the “enhancement program classes.”

ASUU now owns and operates a child-care facility that provides drop-in child care as an option for registered children. This facility is located in the basement of the Alfred Emery Building at the top of Presidents Circle, on the opposite side of campus from married student housing.

On Oct. 27, ASUU sponsored the first family fun day, and has planned two more for next semester.

No Bull promised students living in the residence halls that they would address the parking problems, help support the mandatory Olympic move and work to get cheaper replacement U Cards for the students who break them through overuse.

The recently assembled parking task force will discuss the issues at the residence halls along with the problems of the rest of campus.

While No Bull made a campaign promise to help the residence hall students move for the Olympics, they have not found it necessary because of the support already provided by the U.

“The U has been so on top of it, they’ve been amazing,” Lowe said.

But they did succeed with the U Cards. Residence hall students don’t have to pay to replace their overswiped ID cards. ASUU initially wanted to have the price reduced to $15 or less, but the U Card office now replaces them for free.

Redbook Policies

The “truth in funding” policy that ASUU embraces is another part of the No Bull platform. This policy requires the disclosure of all student government expenditures. ASUU plans to release this information at the end of the year, and is in the process of keeping track of how each dollar is spent. ASUU will also provide this information upon request.

The recent changes to the elections bylaws that clarified ambiguities such as the phrase “fair market value” fulfill the promise from Lowe and Nelson to revamp the confusing elections bylaws that led to the near-disqualification of the Innovation Party last year.

While running, Lowe and Nelson also promised to provide a mechanism for student referendums. These referendums would be placed on the ballot during spring elections to save costs and increase voter turnout. Lowe plans to work on this during Spring Semester.

Promises on Hold

Other promises ASUU has still not fulfilled include a senate resolution asking teachers to reuse past textbooks, an email system informing students of upcoming ASUU events and individual Web pages for clubs and organizations. ASUU still plans to accomplish these goals, but other projects, particularly the newly created online book exchange, have taken precedence.

According to Lowe, he identified the book exchange early on as something that would help students sooner than a senate resolution. This effort has taken much of the energy of the Technology Board, which will now begin to work on the email system, according to Lowe.

Increased publicity for clubs and organization has become stymied by a flawed communication system.

“The communication process between us and the groups has never really worked,” said David Gray, who directs campus relations.

Gray hopes that after the contact information is finally updated he can begin to fulfill the campaign promise

Neglected Promises

Lowe and Nelson have not fulfilled some of their promises they hoped would increase campus involvement. One of these was a student involvement hotline that would tell students about opportunities on campus.

“That was a dumb idea,” Lowe said. ASUU’s number, 581 2788, can already direct students to campus recreation or other places students need to call to get involved.

Another promise Lowe and Nelson have neglected since entering office is the idea of a huge campuswide party similar to the Howl at Utah State University or the Spring Fling at Brigham Young University. They hoped to hold this party in conjunction with the Olympics this year, and have it become an annual tradition. They have since changed their mind.

“It’s a great idea in theory,” Nelson said. He said the problems with scheduling and the facilities at the U make planning such a party difficult. “It would be a ton of work,” he said.

Although ASUU has failed to establish a traditional party, Lowe and Nelson point to Redfest, the festival held the first three days of the semester, and the Olympic Games Fest as events that have entertained and benefitted the student body.

Focus On Parking

Lowe and Nelson have taken on the parking issue with more gusto than promised during their campaign. They initially wanted to make the parking signs around campus more understandable, and change the permitless parking times to an earlier time of day. Lowe and Nelson have not made either of these changes, instead deciding to address parking in a different way.

ASUU asked U President Bernie Machen to form a task force that will look into the parking issue and find long term solutions to campus congestion. Machen formed the task force a month ago, and the group is discussing all possible solutions to the parking problem, including the ideas to change the parking signs and the permitless parking times, but Lowe wants those option dropped.

“The things we had [promised] during the campaign wouldn’t really make a true difference,” Lowe said.

The promises Lowe and Nelson made while campaigning are only a part of what ASUU does.

“You come into our office, and you really learn a lot more about what you can do,” Nelson said. “We’ve extended our platform. You modify, you make changes, you listen to the voice of the students.”

“We’ve done so much out of our platform,” Lowe said. “I don’t want to be accountable only for the platform.”

Lowe mentioned the food services committee, ASUU’s efforts to revitalize the budget and save students money and the speakers bureau that will soon be a part of the Presenter’s Office as projects they thought of after entering office.

“I’m proud of us, I think we’ve done a good job so far,” Allen said. “We have another long semester to go.”

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