Student Government President Vance Aloupis gave his State of the University speech Wednesday afternoon. Despite reading too much while speaking, Aloupis effectively addressed all of his administration’s achievements in the past eight months, like bringing Napster to UM, opening the gates of the Orange Bowl two-and-a-half hours before football games and having the shuttle bus students to the Grove on Halloween. Some members in the audience of senators looked bored, yawned, played with their nails and popped gum bubbles, but the speech was actually a decent, concise overview of the Aloupis administration’s has accomplished thus far.
Aloupis discussed interesting and useful future SG projects, such as an eBay-like website called ‘Cane Exchange and an intriguing proposal to loan umbrellas to students. Aloupis was a little vague, however, regarding progress made to create an Asian and Middle Eastern Studies program, simply saying that “great strides” had been made. What are these strides, and by when can we expect a definitive timeline? SG should be proud that it is working on these laudable projects, and so it ought to make students aware that their concerns are being heard. Getting the student body excited about these projects will only be beneficial to carrying them out.
Unfortunately, Aloupis’ speech did not directly refer to any mistakes or weaknesses in his administration, except for acknowledging lack of publicity for Napster. He said that it is difficult to change curriculums for service-learning classes, which, quite frankly, was a predictable obstacle. Aloupis also said his idea to add headphones to the cardio machines in the Wellness Center didn’t make much sense, considering that the Wellness Center will be renovated in the next few years. His government resorted to attaching pieces to the machines to place CD players and walkmans, which was a practical, if not ideal, alternative.
Aloupis also failed to mention some of the larger problems SG faces. The Executive Board, for example, meets once a week, and this semester there have always been at least three members absent at each meeting, according to their minutes posted online. In the Oct. 27 meeting alone, eight members were absent, including the e-board’s faculty advisor. Granted, it was Homecoming week and SG members tend to be very involved in on-campus events, but that is no excuse for missing meetings that are only held once a week. This is also true for Senate, where, according to the Speaker of the Senate, the Spectrum and Honors Students Association senators have already been dismissed due to too many absences this semester. Students that get involved in SG are aware of the commitment it entails and should follow through with the commitment they have made with their constituents.
And, while on the subject of SG, there was no new business in the Senate’s agenda for its Nov. 3 meeting. The Budgetary Review Committee, like Aloupis said, was created to make Senate meetings more efficient. The Committee was indeed a productive move, since now a few senators meet at a separate time to allocate funds, but the Speaker of the Senate should make sure there is new business to discuss every meeting. The problem of appointees to vacant Senate positions, who apply in an un-advertised process and are not elected by a constituency, also needs to be addressed, presumably by the Speaker as well.
In large part due to Aloupis’ efforts, SG has undeniably increased its presence on campus the past eight months, and it should make its efforts and achievements known to the student body. Yet, until it comes to terms with some of its weaknesses, SG will fail to live up to its potential.