Wednesday at the Rat brought together the eight candidates vying for the Student Government presidency, a gathering of student leaders with impressive resums and fancy slogans, whose answers during the debate were quickly followed by whistles and cheers from their accompanying entourages.
And then there was Joshua Arcurio.
A senior in Architecture with a liberal mentality, Arcurio’s involvement (he has been the Best Buddies membership coordinator) or lack thereof makes him something that none of the other candidates is: a typical UM student.
In his opening statement, Arcurio immediately noted that the “Current Projects” page on the SG website is blank, an important step in separating himself from what has been a fairly unproductive SG with respect to years past. He then went into his platform, first by addressing the issue of raising campus involvement for those who aren’t involved, a glaring problem by the looks of the almost entirely Greek audience in attendance. In line with his architectural interests, Arcurio is also in favor of a permanent location for displaying student art (may I suggest the new UC once it’s erected?). He also plans to increase involvement among the students at UM with creative minds, which would be a nice way to bring color and art to places like the Cox Science Center, where many students don’t see the light of day.
Arcurio would have won over the undecided voter crowd had there been one when he said, “Anyone in this room and literally everyone on campus has the ability to be an effective SG president,” citing leadership as a generic skill. I believe that, in this sense, a lack of leadership experience may be to Arcurio’s advantage, acting more as a liaison between the administration and student body than the typical candidate would tend to be.
With regards to the issue that students don’t care about until it’s too late – alumni relations – Arcurio agreed with the other candidates’ homogenous response of getting students involved and on the track to success so they will later have a desire to donate, but was the only one to mention any sort of real form of gratitude to alumni, which he offered in the form of Wellness Center memberships after graduation.
When the question of raising involvement among commuter and international students was asked by the moderator, most candidates pointed to their involvement in Greek organizations as the paragon of campus involvement, and Don Donelson even went so far as to say that the lack of campus involvement on the whole is “a bash on non-Greeks.” Arcurio, however, said that because he is a non-Greek commuter student, he would be able to send a strong message that the silent majority exists.
In the end, the most relevant question at the debate may have been the one that had the least to do with each candidate’s platform. Asked to name one speaker and one entertainer that they’d like to book on campus, most candidates dully suggested the likes of Donald Rumsfeld, Oprah Winfrey and the Student Government President at Harvard University (props to Vance Aloupis and Peter Maki for suggesting Dave Chappelle and Jon Stewart, respectively).
Arcurio, on the other hand, mentioned two extremely relevant options for two distinctly different reasons. In keeping with his artistic platform, he immediately mentioned Radiohead as his choice of music, much in line with the alternative styles of our school’s own WVUM. As for the speaker, Arcurio said Fidel Castro would be “the speaker everyone here really wants to see,” which I have no doubt Shalala could pull off – and for which I would hope she would give seating priority to anyone formerly studying International Studies.
Ben Minkus can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.