Opinion Staff Editorial

Staff Editorial: The Cougar endorses Students Unite for the 61st student government administration

However, in light of recent events including the fight for adequate use of student fees and the Sugar Land shuttle bus concerns, UH students need leadership that is aware and able to speak for students’ issues. | Regan Grant/The Cougar

The Cougar endorses Students Unite candidates political science sophomore Cody Szell for president and political science sophomore Mohammad Tabbara as vice president of the 61st Student Government Association administration.

We do not make these statements regularly or lightheartedly. However, in light of recent events including the fight for adequate use of student fees and the Sugar Land shuttle bus concerns, UH students need leadership that is aware and able to speak for students’ issues. 

Although Students Unite has not been perfect, the party’s current administration has shown considerable determination in their willingness to advocate for students. Student Fees Advisory Committee Chair and chemical engineering sophomore Yusuf Kadi’s faceoff with the Board of Regents was an unprecedented event that highlighted the importance of student leaders and student activists rallying together for a cause. 

SFAC aside, as chair of the SGA Academic Affairs committee, Szell himself has confronted the graduation issues impacting many students across campus. When economics majors were not graduating on time, Szell investigated the cause alongside faculty within the department. Though many of these issues still persist, Szell’s willingness to take action is demonstrative of his ability as a leader. 

Tabbara, as the SGA director of multicultural affairs, made waves earlier in the semester as principle backer of the Campus Wudu Station Resolution. Despite encountering road blacks in the form of state regulations, Tabbara advocated for a safer environment for Muslim students. 

Over the past year, the two have demonstrated their genuine desire to bridge gaps across the University community through compromise and dedication.  This is opposed to For All Cougar’s, who’s candidates have yet to speak publicly on the $1.5 million reallocation of athletics fees proposed by SFAC, as well as their stance on the conflict in Palestine. 

During last week’s debate, For All Cougars’ presidential candidate, Biochemistry sophomore Diego Arriaga,  avoided taking a strong stance in regards to the question of support for Palestinian students. While perhaps not directly connected, global issues — like the conflict between Israel and Palestine — are important for the student body and the next administration needs to have the strength and know-how to advocate for them effectively. Moreover, an effective leader should have the bravery necessary to take a strong stance on such issues. 

For All Cougar’s Instagram focuses primarily on parking and campus safety, but their initiatives to combat these issues are somewhat vague and without substance. Arriaga aims to take a look at student fees to solve the parking issue, yet Parking and Transportation Services has never received funding through SFAC. 

He also plans to solve the issue of crime by bridging the gap between the University of Houston Police Department and the Houston Police Department to create a patrolling system on campus and its outskirts. When asked to explain how this would happen, Arriaga alluded to “connections” within the police department and the City of Houston from another organization to accomplish this goal.

While safety is a pressing issue at UH, police department policy is out of the scope of SGA’s jurisdiction. It’s more of a city issue than a University of Houston issue.

Looking at the questionable impact Walk in the Dark had in improving campus safety and the delays from the Campus Lighting Project, previous attempts at collaboration with the police department have not solved much — if anything at all. Proposing old solutions is only a waste of time and highlights the lack of experience a majority of the platform has. 

We are not saying that expertise in University affairs and policies is a requirement, but the desire and commitment to research and propose realistic solutions is. While For All Cougars certainly has shown passion, their commitment to grounded, realistic solutions to students’ problems remains unproven. 

The biggest issue SGA faces is the lack of cohesion between administrations. Each year, a new administration enters the office with new, if not different, ideas that completely dismantle the work of the previous administration. To solve a campus issue, it will take more than a few years which means multiple administrations need to be on the same page for a resolution to happen.  

Students Unite’s Szell and Tabbara have showcased their knowledge of SGA through their previous experiences and understand the struggles of fighting back and forth with University administrations. 

What students need at UH are representatives who will speak up and do the work, not sit around and repeat ideas that have already been disputed.

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