Effective advocacy is cornerstone to a successful student government.
We aim to create a culture of student advocacy at the State Capitol and civic engagement on campus, where students speak out with their voices and their votes. We look forward to working for students on many issues next year, three of which are articulated here in detail:
Making Tuition Predictable and Affordable: Drastic hikes in tuition are due to drastic cuts to higher education, which have been made in response to structural budget deficits. This year, however, the state legislature carries a budget surplus. We will advocate against any further budget cuts from higher education for this upcoming fiscal year. Additionally, we will not consent to any further increases in tuition unless the students can directly feel the positive impact of such policies—improvement of the quality of their education and the professional competitiveness associated with their degree.
Tax-Free Textbooks: Textbooks are tax-free in nine states. Why not Arizona? There are many costs to receiving an education, and we aim to minimize them where we can. If elected, we plan to introduce this historically bipartisan legislation that would exempt textbooks from the state sales tax to put more money in your pocket and keep rising costs under control.
Disparity Funding: Historically, the University of Arizona has been funded more per student than Arizona State. Arizona State University last year received nearly $900 less in funding per student than the University of Arizona. In the 2011 fiscal year, UA received $6,598 per full-time student in state funding, while ASU received $5,702. We find this to be outrageous. We aim to effectively advocate equal funding among the in-state universities in Arizona by submitting proposals that directly address this issue. These proposals could eventually bring an additional $60 million annually to ASU.
We are ineffective unless we have leverage over policymakers.
The student voice needs to be heard at the Capitol. As such, we will institutionalize voter registration to ensure students have power behind their opinions. We will institutionalize voter registration so that freshmen are given the chance to register at least 3 times their first year. These opportunities will take place at Orientation, during Freshman Move In, and in ASU 101 courses.
2012 is a federal election year. Thus, it is even more important to make sure that student voices are present, prominent, and heard at the city, state, and federal level. Voter registration needs to be key, and we will hold monthly registration drives throughout the year. We will also bring back “Who’s Your Legislator Days” and “Meet the Candidates” events so students are informed voters, and we will continue to bring debates to campus.
We will fight to bring transparency and fairness to the appropriations process.
While the executive branch has little, if any, influence on the process, it goes without saying that last year’s Senate Appropriations Committee failed the student body. Clubs were underfunded, paperwork was unclear, and there was little-to-no transparency throughout the entire process. While our role as executives would be admittedly limited, we recognize that this is an area of much-needed improvement for student government, and we pledge to do everything in our power to reform the system:
- Ensure that paperwork is sent out earlier with clear, specific, and consistent information and deadlines.
- Eliminate “one-size-fits-all” regulations that prevent clubs from getting the types of funding that they need.
- Improve communication by holding workshops to make sure that clubs know the ins and outs of the process.
Student government will overhaul its outreach and collaborative efforts.
We recognize that outreach to student government is a delicate balancing act. While it is the responsibility of student government to inform students about important issues and upcoming events through any means possible, it is also important to not overwhelm students with information or spam their e-mail inboxes. Make no mistake – we believe that student government, in the interest of transparency, should provide as much up-to-date information as possible online for students to access. However, we also believe your time is valuable, and that any outreach efforts should be concise and respectful.
Our outreach plan involves the use of a Listserv to contact all students about the most important information – this Listserv would be used no more than twice each semester. For students wanting to stay in the loop on day-to-day operations, we will also create an opt-in, bi-weekly newsletter, which will include upcoming events, current advocacy initiatives, USG Senate legislation, and contact information for USG staff members so that we may address any questions or concerns that you may have. For clubs and organizations, we recognize the disconnect that exists between ASU’s administration and its student body. We will improve the current club and organization roundtables by including Vice President Rund in the conversation.
We know, however, that an effective student government is one that works well with others. Although collaboration has improved this year, we know we still have a long way to go. Collaboration with the Residence Hall Association on an affordable housing and dining initiatives, for example, would be instinctive. Working with campus sustainability organizations to keep our events environmentally sound is another great example. And communicating with coalitions throughout the planning process to make sure that their voices are heard would be key, especially when it comes to guest speakers and events on campus. When it comes to growing an organization or cause on campus, student government should be a help, not a hindrance.
Student government will actively work to foster a stronger sense of community and engagement on campus.
Sun Devils COUNT: Our ticket will create a new and innovative program that will affect how students engage in campus events and programming. Sun Devils COUNT will be an attendance-based incentive program and initiative that will provide students an opportunity to win free prizes for attending games and events on campus. With this opt-in system, students only need to swipe their sun cards with the card readers that will be provided at entrances to the events. If elected, our ticket will work with Sun Devil Athletics, Programming & Activities board, Residential Life, and the administration to make this a successful initiative that engages students in the best capacity.
MU Renovations & Club Storage Space: The Memorial Union is going to be renovated within the next 10 years, and blueprints are currently being drawn. It is important that students have a say in the MU renovations because our campus has dramatically changed since the Memorial Union was built. Here are our priorities for the renovations. We want to make sure that senators have office space, to insure that they have opportunities to interact with their constituents, and a office to conduct their affairs. This will also break the disconnect which exists between USG staff and Senate. Second, given that there are over 700 clubs and organizations on campus, and given that these clubs and organizations do incredible things, it is about time that they had storage space on campus to give them easier access to frequented items.
We will work endlessly to improve the overall Sun Devil student experience.
Throughout a long day of classes, many students find themselves with laptop and netbook computers running on low battery or dead altogether. At ASU, it is important that technology is always evolving, and readily available to all students, especially in the classroom. Our ticket will insure that outlets are installed in the large lecture halls around campus, so that students will never again lack the ability to charge their electronic devices.
Student safety is a very important concern to us. As many students have probably noticed, there are many areas on campus at night that are not well lit. These dark areas pose a serious safety risk to all students walking on campus at night. To make students feel more safe, we will investigate and strategize in order to install lights in the areas of most concern on the Tempe campus.
It is evident that the SRC fields are no longer able to accommodate ASU’s thriving intramural program. It is time to give intramural sports the attention they have long deserved. We hope to attain more field space in order to make games less cluttered, and to help with scheduling.
Most universities have a name for their student section, which increases both pride and tradition in athletics. We want to brand our student section of the football stadium, and give it a name that students can take pride in. We will also have our designers create a logo that can be marketed and sold on t-shirts through the bookstore. We believe that these student-led types of efforts can lead to an overall increase in Sun Devil spirit.