Student government candidates face crowded ballot
The Student Government Association has 57 candidates running for election this spring, with more senate seats being contested than last year.
"I haven’t seen this much excitement since I was a freshman," SGA President David Rosen said.
Rosen said there haven’t been so many contested races since 2004. He said he believes three reasons explain why more people have filed for office.
"The first one, and the most obvious, is that (SGA) abolished the party system. The second is that people saw that we were doing our job and the third was our superior outreach," Rosen said.
Rosen said this SGA Senate has reached more people than many previous senates. He said contested races are not only good for the organization, but also for the candidates.
Rosen said he plans to mediate several debates among the SGA Senate candidates. The presidential candidates will not meet in a planned debate that was to be sponsored by The Daily Cougar after candidate Kelli Harper, currently the SGA director of Public Relations, declined.
"I’m very disappointed that (Harper) is too busy to debate (Vice President Samuel Dike). But if I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t want to debate Sam Dike, either," Rosen said.
While party labels have been banned from election ballots, Dike and his running mate Honors Sen. Jonas Chin are a part of the REDvolution faction. Chin said the original SGA bill that abolished party labels did not abolish the right of assembly.
Chin said the REDvolution name was chosen because it was a slogan often used around campus.
"It’s a school pride thing," he said.
Harper said running for SGA president is something she’s always been interested in.
One of the biggest problems the University has is that students are not always fully aware of what their tuitions and fees go toward, she said.
"My main push is to try and get students at UH to be students at UH," Harper said.
She noted that because UH is a large commuter school, another of her goals is to motivate all students to become involved on campus.
Despite the fact that Harper will be graduating in May, she said may return to UH as a graduate student and still wishes to run for president.
The SGA Election Code states that "if an individual is appointed to fill the vacancy, then the individual’s term of office shall be only for the remainder of the term of the member he or she succeeds," meaning that if Harper is elected and does not return to UH as a graduate student, regent liaison and running mate Judah Johns would not automatically be president.
Johns did not return numerous attempts by The Daily Cougar to contact him for comment.
Presidential contender Dike said he’s happy so many people are running in the election.
"I think it’s exciting to see people want to be in student government and make a difference in our school," he said.
Dike also said the main issues he wants to focus on for the next Senate term are improving student services in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid and the Welcome Center for new and returning students. Dike said he wanted to focus on working toward keeping school affordable at UH and improving communication between the administration and students.
"If (the administration) says something is going to happen, then it should happen," Dike said.
Chin said he is running for vice president because he feels he can contribute to improving the campus through services.
Chin said he plans on working to improve the college councils and communication on campus.
"If we want to be effective, we need the support of the faculty," he said.
Another issue Chin said he wanted to address was the course catalogues, saying he wants students to know exactly what they are signing up for when they choose their classes. He also said he was interested in trying to keep the environment clean.
"We need to get more recycling on campus," he said.
Chin said he also wants to reduce the high cost of mandatory meal plans students must purchase to live in some campus residence halls.
SGA elections will be held March 12 and 13. Students can vote online at www.studentelection.uh.edu.
SGA will hold a debate today among College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences senator hopefuls at 2 p.m. today in the University Center Underground World Affairs Lounge.