The Undergraduate Students Association Council election season is upon us. Amid the campaign excitement, future council members – and their to-be-appointed staff – need to keep some things in mind.
USAC’s constant internal issues this year prevented certain offices from reaching their full potential and achieving their goals. The Daily Bruin Editorial Board’s evaluation of the 2017-2018 council noted how Arielle Yael Mokhtarzadeh, the current USAC president, “carried out the difficult task of working with this year’s tumultuous council” and how her term “featured her overcoming council hostility to keep the undergraduate student government functional.”
How unfortunate that personal politics prevented an office from accomplishing all the good it set out to do.
Students do not care about petty fights at the council table. Speaking as a Bruin who pays fees for USAC and can cast a vote in this election, I care about platforms being accomplished and council members setting aside their opinions for the benefit of the students they claim to represent.
Election season lasts a month at best. Council members’ terms, however, last a year. There will inevitably be tension among competing campaign teams and their staff. But once election results are out and we have our new council, council members holding onto the hate and resentment will only hold our student body back. When council members appoint certain slate- or non-slate-affiliated members into their offices, they only further divide our campus.
This kind of hostile personal politics prevented co-programming in this year’s council and led to a lack of communication – something that only created further animosity. Future council members must maintain an open mind and extend an olive branch to council members they disagreed with initially and to students who were not part of their campaigns.
Future council members: Have more conversations. Imagine how empowering it would be to have a council in which members can work together despite holding dissenting views and opinions, instead of remaining in a deadlock like our government on Capitol Hill.
Every USAC campaign, to some degree, asserts it will do more for students in some capacity. However, few ideas and promises can be actualized if the council table does not foster a more positive atmosphere and a better outlook that is welcoming of healthy debate instead of petty, personal politics.
This is not to say council members should blindly accept anyone into their offices. But council members need to give their campaign opponents – and the greater student body – a chance. A lot of the hostility among different campaign teams result from posting hateful Facebook posts instead of having one-on-one, personable conversations.
We need to move past the toxic and unproductive status quo. We need to better understand our fellow Bruins. Only then can new council members say they served all students, and not just those in their inner bubbles.
Termeie is a third-year psychobiology student and a member of the USAC Office of the President.