Staff Editorial

Daily Cougar endorses Reyes in SGA elections

The Student Government Association elections begin today, and The Daily Cougar has been keeping a close eye on the candidates.

There are five presidential candidates running this year, and we have decided to give our support to Carlos Reyes because we feel he has the most complete agenda and will do a good job of representing students.

In an interview with the Cougar, Reyes said his goals were to put students’ priorities first and build school spirit. He said there has been a falling out between the Senate and the student body, and he wants to make sure communication between the two improves.

Reyes has served with two administrations in the SGA, as a business senator and most recently as the director of finance, and therefore brings experience to the position. He is also involved in organizations on campus such as the Hispanic Business Student Association.

His vice-presidential candidate, Matt Davis, does lack experience in the Senate, but has shown the passion necessary to lead.

In the same interview with the Cougar, Davis said he wanted to work on solving issues he could tackle and effect change in.

“It is not about playing government,” Davis said. “It is about tackling real world issues — things that we can truly have an impact and change. If we have the opportunity to tackle tuition, we will, 100 percent, but we are not going to utilize our time by tackling things we can’t change.”

Both candidates said their agendas do not necessarily include improving the parking situation and tuition, because they know they would not be able to change those in one year. Instead, they will focus on improving communication and reaching out to students.

Reyes and Davis also want to offer scholarships worth $500 to students at every football game. They have contacted businesses around the Houston area for sponsorship, and they have begun talking to the city about fixing Cullen Street.

Their ideas are realistic and accomplishable, and this is why we think they will do a good job of representing the student body.

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  • In full disclosure, my name is James Strickland and I am also running for President of SGA.

    I believe Mr. Reyes wants to do what he says he does. I don’t think he will be able to though. I think him ‘growing up’ politically in SGA over the last 2 years is not an advantage but a handicap. I say this because SGA members somehow get infected with the mentality that they are subordinate to the UH administration.

    SGA members walk around with the perception that whatever the administration does is always the best thing to do for us students.

    Yet, in 2008 the administration spent over $128,000 on bar tabs. It’s illegal for state employees to use public funds on alcohol. Don’t take my word for it; check out this ABC news report:

    I think UH needs a SGA president that hasn’t been SGA-indoctrinated and that knows the administration is not perfect and is willing to stand up to the administration when they aren’t acting in the students best interest.

    • Mr. Strickland,

      I commend you on your bid for President of SGA. I however am compelled to respond to your assertions. (1) that SGA members “somehow get infected with the mentality that they are subordinate to the UH administration” and (2) that “SGA members walk around with the perception that whatever the administration does is always the best thing to do for us students”

      Let me respond to your second assertion first, as it is easier to dispel, first I will say that both are just factually incorrect. If this were true, no one running for office (which includes incumbents) would be saying that we need to fix, this or that issue, because as you assert they would just think that the admin is doing everything fine, so again that assertion can’t be true. Secondly you are aware by your own experiences that SGA has advocated on your behalf to resolve an issue for you confronting the administration on your behalf, so how could “SGA members” have such a mentality as you assert. Finally I would hope that you wouldn’t make such a sweeping generalization given the fact that there are many who have in the past and are currently running for office on platforms to address student issues, which invevitably mean confronting the administrators to solve real problems just as in your case. There is a common misconception that tough talk alone gets things done in any situation, I have seen enough people run for office and say tough things about taking on the administration and then when they get into office they are just completely lost, because they don’t understand that’s not how things get done; the problem with some people is that they don’t understand that their is a process which has to be learned, both in SGA and in working with the administration to resolve student issues. If you don’t know the process how can you determine whether it is flawed or not, so when you say that it is a handicap being “SGA indoctrinated” or “growing up in SGA” that is just historically incorrect we have seen historically that people who know the process can get things done, its not a gaurantee but it can be an asset, what it comes down to is the passion and willigness of the person to advocate on their fellow students behalf; that combined with institutional knowledge is a powerful thing. If what you meant is that some people lose sight of what their role is then, I would agree there are those who run and never completely grasp the potential of the student voice, and in some cases they are not interested in advocating but having been in the organization for 4 years I can tell you those were few and far between and most of the time ended up dropping out.

      To answer your first assertion that SGA members get infected with the mentality that they are subordinate to the administration, I will follow-up my previous statements saying there is no room for sweeping generalizations because its factually and historically incorrect, however to your credit you do point out that there are few people in any Student Government not just our own who do not understand the role of a student representative no matter if your president, vice president or student senator, your job is to be a student advocate, their are times when yes you must confront the administration to advocate on behalf of your fellow student, but also equally important is having student representatives understand that partnering with the administration to tackle challenging issues is important to the future well-being of our students, building partnerships with administrators allows you to develop joint goals which include student input and provide for the free-flow of information, it also allow you to be proactive in resolving potentially problematic areas before they flare-up into disasters that effect a significant population of students. The mentality can’t be that the administration is wrong all the time, because quite frankly thats just not the case, however there are issues of concern that need to be advocated for and without you or any other student reps those issues may not be addressed. The administration needs SGA to understand the needs of the students and we need them to help resolve those issues. What will not help this university move forward or the student body for that matters is if you don’t understand that you will also need to work together where possible. I leave you with that.

      On a final note, this one more directed towards the editorial staff; this election as with any student body election is about what is best for the students as a whole, which is why I would hope that prior to this endorsement each candidate was given the opportunity to make their case as to what they could offer the students. It may not be a requirement to do so but it should be practice.

  • I’m pretty sure public institutions can purchase alcohol through discretionary funds.

    Quick Googling shows UHCL has a pretty clear-set policy on this, which is similar to Texas State’s policy:

    Texas State:

    In fact UT Dallas has pretty clearly delineated guidelines regarding alcohol purchase: (DOC file)

    At no point does ABC 13 say where the funds are derived. They imply it’s tuition, but note that there is a specially chosen account for alcohol. UH then announces it will not use tuition for these funds, but will continue using donor funds.

    This is perfectly standard practice. Most, if not all, universities use gift and discretionary funds to purchase alcohol. The primary response is to court donors. Dolcefino notes that UH spent $850 on food and drinks “to discuss future university fundraising.” It sounds to me as though they’re expecting a handsome return on such an outing.

    SGA members must be vigilant against the administration, and they must curb their oftentimes inflated egos — but this alcohol nonsense is pretty much just that.

    If you really want to make sure SGA members are doing their jobs, make sure they are attending their committees. SGA reps are supposed to attend various committees throughout the year, yet often fail to do so. I would start at collecting meeting minutes.

    • James, I find your comments much disillusioned. I happen to be a president who was not “SGA-indoctrinated” as I was never a part of the SGA prior to running for president at this time last year. Your notion of subordination to the administration is in fact a misconception as we have-on numerous occasions you are obviously not aware of-passionately expressed our disagreement or discontentment with the administration. Better yet, we have been proactive in proposing alternative solutions to the problems many love to simply identify. How you can possibly insinuate that current and past SGA members think the UH administration is perfect is beyond me and I’m sure most of my colleagues.

      I am wary of candidates who are so passionate in identifying a problem to which they offer no viable solution. I am always open to criticism as long as it is constructive. Unfortunately your comments reflect no such trait.

  • James, I agree with you that a lot of SGA representatives are tainted by the thought that whatever the administration does is right. I don’t agree with your assumption that ALL SGA members are like this. I don’t like assumptions in politics, especially not from a candidate.

    I am Executive Director of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and we have been working with Reyes and other Truth for Coogs members on a Good Samaritan Policy. This policy is not popular with the Administration, and despite this Reyes and others have been very helpful to us, and have included passing one as part of their platform. The policy would encourage students to seek medical attention during a drug or alcohol overdose by shielding them from overly harsh University-based punishments.

  • With regard to this endorsement, I cannot help but express my discontent with this endorsement on many fronts I may express via different channels. I find it puzzling that the Daily Cougar editorial staff would endorse one of five candidates on the basis of “experience”, “a complete agenda”, and a seemingly exclusive interview conducted with only this candidate. While it may be your prerogative to endorse whomever you deem in your opinion to be the best candidate, it should be your practice as an independent, neutral entity covering these elections, to make such a process fair and objective.

  • Samuel,

    I stand by what I said about SGA being subordinate to the UH administration. Like I said, I’m sure Mr. Reyes really wants to accomplish what he says he does; but ultimately he will only be able to accomplish what the administration allows him to.

    I went to a senate meeting and the Speaker made the comment, “it’s cool because the administration takes us seriously and listens to us”. To me this implies that in the back of her mind, she doesn’t expect the administration to take her seriously. And yes I know it’s dangerous, and most of the time taken out of context, to give one sentence someone says and then make a generalization—but the general feeling I got from the other senators confirmed (to me) my thinking. I have had first-hand interactions with the SGA president (this semester) and the vice president (2008/2009 administration). And I can tell you, what I say is true about the Administration wearing the pants in their relationship.

    I have a question. How long does it take to learn the SGA process?


    Why wasn’t this sensible drug policy passed during the current SGA administration?

    If Mr. Reyes is elected, I am going to call up Students for a Sensible Drug Policy in the middle of the fall/2010 term and ask if a Good Samaritan Policy exist. I hope it does.


    You should work for ABC 13.

    Are you in SGA? I only ask because when Dolcefino notes that UH spent $850 on food and drinks “to discuss future university fundraising”, you say, “it sounds to me as though they’re expecting a handsome return on such an outing.”

    President Fomunung,

    This will probably make you mad, but I agree with you 100 percent. I would think Vice President Wilson would have The Daily Cougars endorsement based on “experience” and “a complete agenda”.


  • The Daily Cougar supports a single candidate? I write for the cougar and this is news to me. I guess I should go back and see if I can redo my vote…

  • James,

    Your citations in support of your argument, are completely baseless, and do not support your argument about a “subordinate attitude.” I notice that you cited the alcohol issue as support for your argument, did you also cite what the SGA President and other members had to say about it? I’m guessing you somehow believe that they were ok with that because it’s not their student money either? Or maybe you thought they have the statuatory authority to freeze spending of the University? (belongs to the board of regents btw) What they did do is voice their concern and disproval if that had occured and in fact because of that a new policy about those expenses where put into place, so again citation for your argument is baseless. Secondly you cite the Speaker as saying “It’s cool the administration listens to us and takes us seriously.” Tell me again how saying that they listen to you, can mean that they don’t listen to you and don’t take you seriously? Did you read it backwards? Again your citation is baseless and factually inaccurate.

    I will say this James, you are entitled to your own opinion, and I don’t have qualms with that the feeling you have is the feeling you have, but you don’t get to write your own facts and you presented your opinion as a fact. Its my “opinion” that you are wrong, and the ‘fact is you are historically and factually incorrect. I guess it’s a good thing that perception isn’t always reality.

  • I forgot to answer your last question about how long it takes to learn the process, the answer to that is, it is up to you and the effort you put into it. SGA is what you make of it; if you want to be a good advocate for students, then you will put in the work for it. Unfortunately some people don’t always do that.

  • Samuel,

    Okay. We disagree on the manner of the relationship between SGA and the UH administration. I have another issue.

    I just read today’s article titled, “SGA veteran hopes to claim student presidency”.

    ( )

    It’s a piece about Mr. Reyes.

    I am very curious to get your take on the following statement from him:

    “Students want SGA to take action,” Reyes said. “We want to focus on representation, not legislation, and the senators actually doing something for the students, not just writing bills and legislation that will just be archived in the SGA Web site. We want more action from the senate.”

    To me the line that sticks out is, “…senators actually doing something for the students…” Mr. Reyes is an insider; he’s a SGA veteran. I would think he would know better than anybody on the effectiveness of the senate…which, taking his word for it, doesn’t seem effective at all.

    Please advise,


    • Mr James, funny how it looks like you’ve been on this site pretty often, only trash-talking what others have to say without actually giving much input about yourself. For such strong opinions there hasn’t seem to be such a strong base of support for your campaign, nor have you been actively campaigning. Only Prince, Carlos, and even that one girl’s boyfriend have been actively doing anything to campaign. Maybe instead of throwing rocks, you should watch out for that very small glass roof that only you seem to be under. Do you even know how the SGA works? Seems you don’t given that you’re asking how long it’ll take to learn the process. Maybe reading the constitution and learning some professionalism would be in your best interest before tackling the presidency.

    • Advise you James? I can only comment on the merit of his statement. I evaluate the statements people make, I do not however interpret them. If you think Mr.Reyes is insinuating something by his statements, then you should ask him; don’t make assumptions (like all of your other ones) btw that is my first piece of advice, don’t assume.

      With that said, my assessment of his statement is that, I agree with it; we all want “senators actually doing something for the students,” in fact I will go further and say we all want our student representatives, senators and execs, appointed or elected, actually doing something for the students. Who wouldn’t want that?

      The goal is to be an effective advocate for your fellow students, which leads me to my next point of clarification on your other assumption that because carlos is an “insider” or “veteran” of SGA he better than anybody should know the effectiveness of the senate, and that from his words, you assume he believes the senate is not effective. I have several points of contention with your assumptions. Number one contention is the fact that you are making assumptions (refer to advice #1: no assumptions) Your assumption that because carlos is an SGA “veteran” he is the best to decide effectiveness is shortsighted; while I do think peer to peer assessments are helpful in determining effectiveness however your SGA colleagues are not the ultimate decision makers in that regard; the ultimate decision about the effectiveness of a person or group, rest with our fellow students and the standard of measure is in the tangible things you do for them; so if you do your job, your record will show. Student reps deemed ineffective by students, can be voted out of office. So I will take their word for it over anyone elses.

      Finally let me address the beginning of your comments, in which you state that you “stand by your words,” even in the face of the facts. You even brush it off as just a disagreement in the “manner of the relationship between SGA and the admin;” again after being confronted with the facts. It sounds as if you are the one who has an indoctrinated belief and I find it odd that someone who believes that SGA plays a subordinate role to the admin would want to join the organization. There is a proper way to critique a person or group who you believe is not maximizing their efforts; it is called a challenge. Now I challenge you to stop making assumptions, learn the facts and positively contribute to a discussion on how to move the student body and university forward. (Btw that was advice #2)

  • Where can I find information about the positions of each candidate, the senators, and the President/Vice President candidates? The Daily Cougar is virtually the only place to find out, and it hasn’t spotlighted any college senators. Anyone?

    • Yeah you would think The Daily Cougar would give some info about the senators. I think most senators are affiliated with a student party. You can check out for the Cougar Nation party. You can also check out the Truth for Coogs party on their facebook group, I’m not sure about other candidate information. Of course, James Strickland for president.

  • President Fomunung,

    I owe you an apology. I was wrong about the administration controlling SGA.

    My assumption turned out to be bad.

    There isn’t a problem with the administration pulling the strings of the SGA, but a problem lies with how serious the administration takes SGA. And that has a direct link to what Mr. Reyes was talking about in Tuesday’s article.

    Mr. Reyes talks about SGA not taking enough action on behalf of the students. He also points out a practice of doing legislation for legislation’s sake.

    ((this isn’t me saying this…please check it out if you have not already, ))

    If this is the case, why would the administration or anyone take SGA seriously?

    So the biggest problem with SGA isn’t the administration, but SGA itself. ((Again, before getting upset at me for saying this, please read Mr. Reyes comments))


    My six grade English teacher used to say, “Never assume because it makes an ASS out of U and ME”. When I was in the six grade, I believed this to be true. Now since I’m an adult, I know my teacher was wrong.

    You told me, “Now I challenge you to stop making assumptions, learn the facts…”

    Going through life is a stochastic process. It is impossible to know all the facts in any real-life situation. To say otherwise is 100 percent incorrect.

    If you take an economics course at UH, you learn the basis of economic theory is based on assumptions on how people act in society.

    Do you ever look at the weather report? The models used to predict the weather have built in assumptions about temperature, pressure, wind systems, etc.

    Do you ever follow the stock market? The models that quants and hedge fund managers use have build in assumptions on how the market will react to particular situations.

    Now you can argue that there are good assumptions and bad assumptions. I would say this about assumptions:

    Don’t be blindsided by your assumptions
    Update your understanding

    And this it what I did when realizing the SGA isn’t a puppet with the administration pulling the strings.

    • Also Samuel, if you do not ever interpret what someone says, how can you ever know what they’re saying? How can you ever communicate with someone? Communication is based on interpreting what people say and write to each other.

  • James,

    Let me clarify my statements so that you can understand clearly. I do not try to engage in interpreting isolated statements, instead I prefer to either directly ask the person what they mean by their statement or seek out potential supporting or conflicting statements to come to a conclusion of the meaning of the statement; it is what we call research. Would you write a paper with only one supporting statement? Furthermore the fact that he didn’t say it directly to me is more of a reason why I would either ask him directly or look at other statements he has made, which is not what you did, you make a blank assumption and present it as a fact. Of course I believe that you have to make assumptions about things like the economy or the weather both unlike you did, people who make those assumptions don’t take one statement or factor into account when making that assumption.

    Do economist not evaluate various indicators including history
    Do meteorologist and hedge fund managers not do the same? You took one statement and ran with it, congratulations you are no closer to the truth then when you started. You can stand by your word all you want, but steadfast about something doesn’t mean it is correct. Let me say it again, your assumptions are both factually and historically inaccurate, at least economist, meteorologist and hedge fund managers understand that before making an assumption you take the facts that are clear and history into account; and as I said before you should because the organization advocated on behalf of you.

    And if you think this you probably think they didn’t take me seriously, if that is the case please try and prove to me how you think they didn’t take me seriously, and if you dare to do so I can’t wait to see your supporting evidence. Actually why don’t I help you out search my name on the UH website, and see what you find about my involvement in the affairs of this campus and then explain where I wasn’t taken seriously if and I do mean if you think so.

    Good luck to you.

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