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Thursday, May 23, 2024
The Eagle
Valentina Fernandez

Opinion: Student government does not need another insider

Why I am voting for Joshua Dantzler and Carolyn Mejia

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article sharing the importance of being critical about all candidates running for the Student Government executive board. I also discussed the unique challenges that came with my complex identity, and the backlash I received when I challenged the status quo within student government.

This election cycle, our student body deserves two students that are going to continue challenging the status quo. We don’t need any more SG insiders who make it hard for people outside of the organization to make real change. That’s why this election cycle I’m asking you to join me in voting for Joshua Dantzler and Carolyn Mejia for AUSG President and Vice President respectively.

Let me be clear—I never intended to comment on this election cycle. However, after hearing all of the candidates speak in multiple forums, it would simply be wrong for me to remain silent in choices that are clear. It’d be hypocritical of me to remain complicit when I have prided myself  on being critical of SG during my term as president.

Carolyn Mejia is a complete outsider to SG. In a role that oversees programming boards that manage over 60 percent of SG’s almost half a million-dollar budget, she is the only candidate that has the actual programming experience to manage this responsibly. Carolyn has dedicated her entire AU journey to quietly building meaningful programs around identity with the Latinx & American Student Organization. 

I trust that she will continue to do this during her time as SG Vice President. Whether she was hosting hard conversations, protesting with students about DACA proposals or reaching out to a diversity of multicultural organizations to celebrate the beauty of being a person of color in a predominantly white institution, she is bold in everything she does.

Carolyn is also substantive. Her platform includes launching the hard work started around paying student leaders outside student government, rethinking the role of Founders Ball in our community and promoting more artists, activists and poets rather than the same old white politicians.

As someone that has served in the executive board, I understand the importance of a Vice President that can have strong programming experience while simultaneously holding the values that will support the SG President’s vision. I believe that the combination of Carolyn’s personal experiences, pointed persuasion and intent listening skills will do just that and more. She’s not afraid to speak her values into action—even when no one is looking.

The other candidate running for Vice President offers unique insight into how student government operates. That is exactly the problem. We don’t need the same old, same old.

In fact, some candidates have criticized mishandling of funds from student government. However, let me be candid here: during my time as SG President, I have worked with many of these candidates, and I have seen them remain silent in the face of tough choices. 

The reality is that some candidates that claim student government does not appropriately distribute funds have actually been students in the room making the decisions to distribute funds themselves. If they haven’t shaken things up before, I am critical of their ability to suddenly shake it up. They’ve had two years to do it, and have disappointedly under-delivered.

On the other hand, Carolyn has done the opposite and more. This is critical toward creating a strong executive board team, in addition to the president that is elected.

Joshua Dantzler’s experience working with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Black Greek life and other student organizations outside of student government is needed. While Joshua has been previously involved in SG, he does not live his campus experience in a silo. Joshua doesn’t just talk about the issues he faces—he lives them.

While I believe that I was intentional about the student voices I elevated behind closed doors as SG president, Joshua will continue to do this and more.  Whether it is on the steps of MGC or inside the room of the most powerful adults behind closed doors, Joshua will be present, bold and active with all students.

Some of the other candidates will also claim that they are simply the most experienced and to that I say this: student government experience is not the only experience that is worthy. Our student organizations are the heart and soul of this campus.

Our campus has made it clear that they’re tired of the same old boys club. We need people that can continue holding SG accountable and people who have been in SG and underperformed won’t quite cut it anymore.

This election cycle, vote for a fresh perspective and vote for candidates that have a track record of delivering outside one of the most untrusted organizations of our student body. If we elect bold voices that have never been a part of the status quo, then maybe, just maybe – student government will actually be representative of the student body. 

Join me and vote Joshua Dantzler and Carolyn Mejia for AUSG President and Vice President. 

Valentina Fernández is the current SG president and a senior in the School of Public Affairs. She is an outside contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Eagle and its staff.

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