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Monday, November 12, 2018

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Outsider McCollum hopes to break up ‘social club’


Alexander McCollum running for SGA president with Reform UH

Alexander McCollum said he will reduce his presidential salary to let that money go to other student organizations. | Courtesy of Alexander McCollum

Alexander McCollum, an economics junior, is running for Student Government Association President with the Reform UH party. He initially decided to go to the University of Houston to stay in town to help his family.

“I wanted to go to Rice, but Rice was really expensive,” McCollum said. “To me, it was just a no-brainer to go to the University of Houston to stay with my family and to cut down on costs. I absolutely fell in love with the campus.”

McCollum commutes from Sugar Land, he said. He was born in The Woodlands but moved to Branson, Missouri while his mother went to school. McCollum then spent a year in Jerusalem and another in London while his mother earned her master’s degree in philosophy and religious studies.

Then he went to Cypress Woods High School in Cypress, finally moving to Sugar Land with his father’s family for college.

McCollum said he thinks a big problem with previous Student Government Association administrations was being at odds with the UH administration and other organizations when trying to accomplish goals.

“It’s a lot of fire and emotion, and not a lot of practical action,” McCollum said. “One of the things that I think would be different about this administration is that we’re into data analysis. A lot of people on this team know how to take large amounts of data, compute the numbers and produce a result that says, ‘Okay, we need this, and here’s why.’”

Everyone from Student Fees Advisory Committee to the UH administration believes that SGA is going to do whatever it thinks is best without listening to outside organizations when it comes to issues they try to resolve, McCollum said.

His party has developed a plan to increase funding for student organizations that involves cutting the salary of the president and some cabinet members to redistribute to organizations that are lacking, McCollum said.

“I honestly would cut my salary down to zero if SFAC will let me,” McCollum said. “I’ll cut it down to whatever the bare minimum is.”

The Reform UH Party wants to run surveys and analyze data to find the greatest need among student organizations for funding, take those surveys to SFAC and ask them to appropriate it to “pilot programs” to ensure that the money will be used effectively, McCollum said. If they see statistically positive change, they will try to re-appropriate more SGA funding to other organizations.

Other SGA administrations have been successful in cutting student government funding in the past. Shane Smith’s 53rd administration cut its budget of $153,169 down by $2,717 in 2016.

“We’re going to face roadblocks along the way. We’re going to run into the same problems that everybody’s run into, and that’s the truth,” McCollum said. “It’s how you solve those problems in a different way that creates progress. If that wasn’t possible, people wouldn’t try to solve things that haven’t been solved.”

McCollum has not been involved in student government before, he said.

“I’ve heard a lot about the SGA. One of the reasons I got involved was because it didn’t feel right,”  McCollum said. “I felt like the student body was getting ripped off by a social club.”

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