How is ASUU doing?

By By Patrick Muir

By Patrick Muir

[Editor’s note: This is the third installment in a series about the effectiveness of U student government so far this academic year.]

Every year during campaign season, candidates try to win over voters with their vision of how they are going to better serve the campus community. The Grassroots Party won last year’s election, making Alex Lowe president, and Bobby Harrington vice president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah. During the campaign they made promises, and have since kept most of them.

Recycling

A recycling program for the campus was promised as a theme in the administration’s agenda. “We understand that a lot of work needs to come from the administration, but those lines of communication are becoming much more open,” Lowe said. Harrington agreed, noting that recycling has become a “key theme” in the campaign process.

Results

A year of research and planning is turning into a campus-recycling program. “Recycling has been a major focus. The special projects board has that as their special project,” said Chief of Staff Patrick Barnes. Current plans are to have the company Cascadia perform an audit to see how much the recycling program would cost. “Cascadia’s audit should be conducted at the end of March or the beginning of April,” said Bobbi Freeman, special project board director.

Increasing student awareness

A goal of the Grassroots Party was to make it easier for students to become aware of student government actions and activities.

Results

The administration went out on campus twice in the fall, as if it were campaign season, handing out fliers and talking to students to make them more aware of what is happening on campus.

“Our goal was to get out of the office and bring the events to the students. It’s easy to sit in our office and send out an e-mail or put an ad in The Chronicle and say we’ve done our job getting to them,” Barnes said.

The administration has also increased the subscription to the ULIFE e-mail, an e-mail that is sent at least once a week notifying students of events on campus. “We’ve tried to make those e-mails go out earlier to give the students more notice,” Barnes said.

Student Involvement Plan

The Grassroots Party argued during their campaign that its “specific and practical approach” to ensuring that all students one way or another find a “sense of belonging” is what sets it apart. The party described a plan that would ask all registering students to indicate which student groups they would be interested in getting involved with and to submit their contact information. The student groups would then be able to proactively seek out those students, instead of having the students go to them. “Students want to get involved, they just need that help. That’s what makes the difference-we’re going after them,” Lowe said.

Results

ASUU is currently finishing up an online database where students through the student access Web portal will be able to express their interest in student groups. This database will create an easier way for students to know about the many different student groups and how to contact and get involved.

“It will be very accessible from their classes schedule to the Web portal where they sign in for student access. Once in a while-not all the time-a pop up will come on saying, ‘If you would like to get involved, go here.’ It looks like in March it will be up and functional,” Barnes said.

Cabinet Members

Last year nine cabinet members resigned, many of them to run in elections. Lowe and Harrington said that decreasing the cabinet turnover rate would “increase the cohesiveness and allow more work to be accomplished.” They also expected each board director to put in at least 20 hours of work per week.

Results

This year the board directors have put in a 20-hour workload most weeks, according to Barnes. “Most of them are going way above and beyond. They have been doing a tremendous amount of work.”

Cabinet members resignations are down from last year with five so far.

“There were several members that resigned at the end of Fall Semester,” Barnes said. The majority resigned to run in elections.

Barnes also reported that a few cabinet members had to have their stipends reduced because they were not putting forth the correct amount of hours.

“Everybody’s commitment to the executive cabinet has been very good. A few people had situations come up in their lives where they had to make a judgment call as to whether executive cabinet was the most important thing in their lives or not. We understand and respect it and that affects their compensation.”

Certain ASUU projects were slowed down a bit as a result of cabinet members not being able to work, but not by much. “There are a few things that we were working on that didn’t go quite as quickly as we had hoped. Most of the time we had an AD [assistant director] step up. I don’t think we had any major setbacks. It would be nice to have everyone’s full attention all of the time, but that’s not always possible,” Barnes said.

Fiscal Responsibilities

The Grassroots Party stated during its campaign that it wanted to inform the students of how their money was being spent. “We want them to know exactly what’s going on with their money,” said Harrington.

Results

The administration has yet to inform students themselves of how their money is spent, as it has decided to defer to third parties. “It’s one thing for us to come out and say, ‘Hey this is where it is going,’ and we can make it look good, but if we have third, independent parties going through our information, it’s that much more effective,” said Brian James, financial board director.

This is a difference in what the party promised during its campaign. The administration believes if it did inform the students directly, that the students would feel it wasn’t telling the whole truth. “We did have plans we were working on for releasing more statements. Although we try to make that information handy, if we started issuing reports we feel people are going to start to think that we are putting a spin on it and we think the numbers speak for themselves,” said Barnes.

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