Blinded by an army of brightly colored campaign shirts and deafened by the loud buzzing of rumors and unfounded accusations, the average student at UM might get lost in the hyped-up hoopla of this year’s SG presidential elections. As students, it’s our responsibility to look beyond the campaigns and focus instead on the qualifications and true personalities of these candidates in order to make the best decision.

When was the last time you heard anything about SG?

Well, as many of you recall, last year, current SG President Scott Sadowski ran under the slogan: “Strengthening the Storm.” And what a storm it was. We were a Category 5 hurricane, and now we’re just a tropical depression. Sadowski’s storm was strong enough, though, to destroy the outstanding reputations the two previous terms had achieved for the University.

That said, three members of Sadowski’s executive board are running for office: Vice President Chris Clark, Speaker of the Senate Carlos Echeverri and Chief of Staff-External Billy Bludgus. These three have proven in the past year that they’re ineffective and unproductive together, leaving one to wonder what will happen once they’re apart.

Of course, that’s not to say they aren’t in the running. These three have the most SG experience of all eight candidates. But their poor showing at the presidential debate on Wednesday and the lack of novelty or creativity in their platforms make it difficult to endorse any of them for the position of president.

Chris Clark is charismatic and approachable, but seems to have entered this race overconfident and self-assured. News flash: being vice president doesn’t automatically bring about the presidency. Clark could have created a strong platform based on all the unfulfilled promises of Sadowski’s presidency, organized himself for the debate and blown us away. However, he came off limp and generic – not polished enough to win an election.

Carlos Echeverri stresses the experience of his ticket. Experience is one thing, but what you do with it is something completely different. Echeverri’s achievements in the Association of Commuter Students and other organizations, while commendable, don’t represent what he should be capable of with so many years of experience. He prides himself on being accessible, but The Hurricane has always had a hard time getting in touch with him.

Two down, six to go.

Billy Bludgus claims to be the “right hand man” of current SG president Sadowski. Is that really something to brag about? Furthermore, Bludgus’ platform should be bludgeoned. Most of his ideas are already in the works or completed by UM administration, namely the addition of a Starbucks in Richter that has already been announced by President Shalala on several occasions.

So let’s move on to the candidates with zero SG experience.

Don Donelson’s platform is based on creating a “contract” with students. However, Donelson comes across as an angry ivy-league reject who wants to do nothing more than make UM the next Harvard.

Peter Maki, who has done a great job delegating responsibility within his fraternity, didn’t clarify the mission behind his cryptic campaign slogan, “U, Inc… Protecting U from all that bumps in the night.” This seems to hint at beefing up campus security, but Maki failed to mention any such goals during the debate.

The independents Scott Wacholtz and Josh Arcurio should be commended for their individuality, honesty and good ideas. Neither, however, has sufficient experience in SG to be the next president. They should consider getting involved and working their way up instead of jumping into a position they know nothing about.

This year The Hurricane has decided to endorse Vance Aloupis and his winning ticket: “The Storm is Here… Taking U to the Next Level.” Aloupis, Minal Ahson and Steph Berg have held leadership positions in practically every major facet of the University, including residential and Greek life, volunteer services, COISO and SG.

Their extensive experience gives them the ability to represent the student body in a way that gives a voice to the students who are often ignored, particularly the under-represented minority populations on campus. Besides that, their platform is well-researched, feasible and encompassing of the entire student body.

What’s more, Aloupis’ enthusiasm is contagious, and he even manages to use clichs with a certain degree of sincerity.

He has already begun to make the necessary connections and establish rapport with administration and trustees – something that’s crucial in a successful presidency, especially with the presidential debate coming to campus next semester.

Thus, Aloupis and his ticket seem to desire change while at the same time having the ability to achieve it. People always say nice guys finish last, but this time the nice guy is going to come out on top.