Op-Ed: A president for our student body

In one month, the greatest four years of my life will come to a close. So in my final month of college, it may seem foolish that I still care about a Student Government election. But hear me out.

I still care because when I walk across the stage in May, I will be the first in my family to be handed a Bachelor’s Degree. I still care because like nearly a quarter of my classmates, I am the Pell student who had to work while at AU to be at AU. I still care because four years later, I became the person I always wanted to be.

Great. Now what does this have to do with SG?

For all of its faults, SG is our best shot at creating the student experience we deserve. Has it always done that? No. SG can’t do much when it acts for our student body.

But SG can do a lot when it acts with our student body.

This race will determine which of those approaches we use as we move forward. I’ve worked with all three candidates. They’re three exceptional individuals. Two are running to be president of Student Government. Only one is running to be the president for our student body. That individual is Sasha Gilthorpe.

The reason I believe in Sasha is because she believes in us.

If we believe nobody should be priced out of AU, then we need a fighter who understands college affordability outweighs unnecessary renovations. None of them can magically lower tuition. Yet progress must be made for student workers. Students know that because Sasha sat and interviewed campus employees after she learned that students have been made to work overtime without additional payment. She even created a report highlighting the need for greater worker rights. Let’s face it: many of these students work so they can afford to make AU possible. If students working on campus help make AU better, they too deserve better.

If we believe that SG can do more for the AU student body, then we need someone who knows how to get things done. It’s easy to say what you want to do. It’s difficult to say how. But it’s not for Sasha. The unglamorous truth about the job is that it’s not hanging out with President Neil Kerwin, because that’s definitely not how things get done. Instead, an SG president has to learn what the administration expects. That means late nights of studying student survey results and the actions of comparable colleges to prepare a report that is hopefully strong enough for an AU administrator to see your point. Sasha is running on “Let’s get things done.” It’s because she has. All three individuals have been a part of SG. But in my opinion, Sasha is the only one who has proven she can both promise and deliver.

Sasha won't exclude the people most directly affected by decisions made in MGC 270: students.

If we believe in a voice for all, not just some, then we need a person driven by compassion instead of politics. There has never been an individual running for more of the right reasons than Sasha. She hasn’t been planning to run since she walked on campus for the first time. Rather, running was motivated by her experiences at AU. As a result, she listens before she leads. She understands that everyone on campus needs to be heard, even if she personally disagrees with their beliefs. She sees there are students whose voices go largely unheard and unnoticed, both on this campus as well as in our society. She understands that despite the inclusive community AU promotes, there are still issues students face in regards to race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and beyond.

Sasha won't exclude the people most directly affected by decisions made in MGC 270: students. She will embody the passion felt by all of us on different issues every single day she is in office. We are only strong when we work, collaborate, and fight as one.

For those reasons and many more, I believe in Sasha Gilthorpe. That’s why this all still matters to me.

It matters because I want to be an alumni who can one day say my school helped make college a right, not a privilege.

It matters because five years down the road, the kid who will work at the same Cassell Hall desk I did from midnight to 8 a.m. to pay for college deserves stronger rights.

It matters because no longer should we have to ask what does SG do for me but rather what can SG do with me.

We should want the student experience to be better than the way we left it. I hope you will join me in voting for that ideal and electing Sasha Gilthorpe.

Together, we won’t elect another SG president. Together, we will elect a president for our student body.

Patrick Kelly is a senior in the School of Public Affairs. He served as the 2013-2014 SG president.

edpage@theeagleonline.com

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