USG elections exhibit diversity
Baruch students are hitting the voting booths and pulling levers once again. Elections for the Undergraduate Student Government are underway. The two main parties are Rise Baruch and Theta Apple Pie. There are a couple independent candidates running as well. USG members are the ones who host and co-sponsor large-scale events and parties, fund and regulate student clubs and activities, create initiatives and programs to help students, represent all the undergraduate students attending Baruch College and advocate on behalf of the Baruch community to CUNY officials. USG is made up of one executive board, 18 senators, and 31 board members.
This year’s Undergraduate Student Government election is a vast improvement when compared to previous USG elections. Two years ago, most of the candidates ran unopposed. This year’s elections feature a multitude of candidates. It is great to see Baruch students get so enthusiastic about serving their community.
Additionally, running students should be commended for coming together in a time when toxicity and hyper-partisanship are rampant in national politics. These divisions have neither bled into student elections nor discouraged people from participating.
Theta Apple Pie is trying to appeal to those who value transparency, advocacy and participation. They hope to keep students updated with relevant information, livestream USG meetings and reinstate the suggestion box, according to their released campaign platform. Its party members claim that they will stand up to local and state politicians to make improvements around Baruch, such as renovating the Multipurpose Room and rebuilding the 25th Street Plaza. Additionally, they want to help clubs reach out to students who do not participate in Student Life by requiring senators to attend club meetings and making sure that clubs have sufficient funding to continue.
Rise Baruch is promising the same by focusing on achieving transparency, representation and unity, according to the campaign’s Facebook page. Its members want to make USG available to all and align USG’s focus to the needs of the students. The members wish to represent all of Baruch’s students and hear their concerns in order to make real changes. They also want to promote unity for all students so everyone feels welcome. Baruch is a big school with thousands of students and it can feel lonely to the average commuter student. It is easy to become isolated and fade into the background.
There are also a few independent candidates running as well, which may seem foolish due to the fact that a party may garner greater support. Their platforms are like that of Rise and Theta Apple Pie, boasting goals of encouraging students to become more involved in campus life and make Baruch a more welcoming place.
Unfortunately, there are only eight independent candidates running, two of which are presidential candidates. The rest of the positions remain vacant. This means that many of the positions will only feature two options from which students will be able to choose—the options will come from the two competing parties.
Both major parties had events on the second floor of the Newman Vertical Campus to communicate their platforms to students and make them aware that there is an election happening soon. Theta Apple Pie made their platform available on Facebook, which was a strategic move. Rise Baruch put up a Google Document to let students ask questions and raise concerns. These were then answered in videos on Facebook. With these tactics, both parties demonstrated fantastic outreach. Outreach promotion and direct student interaction need to become standard for future USG elections.
The idea of trying to get more involvement from students in campus life is a great goal but the chances of success seem low on that front. There are always going to be students who just do not want to be a part of campus life, whether it be due to lack of interest or time.
There is also the possibility that current clubs do not pique the interest of any students. Most clubs seem to be centered around business, which makes sense considering that Baruch is primarily regarded as a business school. There is a real lack of clubs that revolve around other popular hobbies such as board games, movies, TV shows, video games and other aspects of pop culture. Perhaps the future USG can push for these types of clubs.
The bigger problem is that most students either view USG as useless or know little of its functions. There are not enough significant changes happening to show students that USG can radically change their life here at Baruch. The elected members will need to make huge impacts quickly. People become quickly disillusioned when elected officials fail to follow through on their promises. Getting something huge done will show the Baruch community that student votes are causing real change.
Nonetheless, this factor should not be used as an excuse to avoid voting. It is imperative that every student participate. Voting is the most powerful way students can create change and improve the school. While the change that results may only be incremental, it is still progress. It is easy to say no to a couple dozen people, but saying no to over 15,000 undergraduate students is much harder. Get involved and vote.