News analysis: Be careful what you promise

When the parties competing in ASUU elections rolled out their campaign platforms last week, the More 4 U Party was left looking like an odd duck.

The party’s platform is much shorter than the others’ and focuses on a handful of ambitious goals, most notably building an underground parking lot beneath Presidents’ Circle.

More 4 U is taking some flak for advertising the concept of a new parking garage on its posters and Web site.

Opponents say the party is making a promise it cannot keep.

After all, the student body president doesn’t have access to enough money to build the garage–it is estimated to cost from $20 million to $25 million–or the authority to make the decision on the university’s behalf.

But Joe Coccimiglio, the party’s presidential candidate, said he never intended the garage to be a campaign promise.

He said, if elected, he simply plans to use his position on the Board of Trustees to advocate for a new parking structure, something he admittedly cannot guarantee.

“In the end, the final say (is not ours),” Coccimiglio said. “What we’re trying to do is get student support.”

However, the argument that student support will help get the structure built may not hold up because the U administration has generally not solicited student opinion before building a parking lot and ASUU has little say when it comes to parking issues.

The party’s posters and Web site don’t state how More 4 U Party candidates plan to get the structure built; they simply advertise the idea.

Coccimiglio concedes that the party’s advertisements were vague about the proposal and said he is changing the Web site to better describe his plans for parking in Presidents’ Circle.

“If people do read it as a promise, I apologize for that,” he said.

Administrators had already been kicking around the idea of building a new parking structure in the northwest corner of campus and sent out a press release in February detailing two sites for a structure — one in President’s Circle and another northeast of the Park Building near 100 South.

The release said Kingsbury Hall and David P. Gardner Hall are in dire need of additional parking.

Coccimiglio said he purposely made ambitious goals for his platform because he believes that the Associated Students of the University of Utah will not make significant changes if candidates are afraid to commit to an idea unless it is sure to be a success. He referred to the recently approved Student Life Center as an example.

All three of the other candidates for student body president said they thought Coccimiglio was making a promise he won’t be able to see through.

“People promise things without necessarily a ton of experience and can’t fulfill them,” said Rick Pehrson, of the Forward Party. “It really gives ASUU a black eye.”

Activate Party presidential candidate Cameron Beech said the More 4 U Party was likely making unrealistic promises because it has little experience in ASUU.

“We won’t run a campaign that makes huge, outrageous promises,” Beech said.

Faculty members are balking at More 4 U’s advertisements, too. When the parking was brought up during the Academic Senate meeting Monday, several professors began to laugh and roll their eyes.

Dave Pershing, senior vice president for academic affairs, responded by saying that the idea is not completely “pie in the sky,” but explained the administration was already exploring the concept.