"The Spectrum endorses Value Party for president, VP"
Student government elections at the university level too often culminate in narrow victories clinched by a mix of popularity and ceaseless 'fliering' - the candidates' pragmatism and tenets fall by the wayside.
They shouldn't this year. James Ingram and Evan Chen offer the strongest platform and greatest experience; students should elect them to be their next president and vice president, respectively.
With the debacles that have overshadowed the Student Association the past several years - a quickly ousted president and unusually high turnover rate at other positions in 2013-14, accusations of the president and "his cronies" rigging the election in 2012-13, a $300,000 scandal in 2011-12 - the importance of taking this year's election seriously should be obvious.
This year, The Spectrum's editorial board is endorsing the party that we're confident would prove most valuable to the students - the articulate, genuine Ingram and deeply involved Chen.
Voted on together, this duo representing the Value Party brings a powerful coalescence of realistic plans, experience through involvement with clubs and positive rapport. The latter is essential for any good team and necessary to heal the wounds left by what has recently been a turmoil-ridden organization.
Ingram's leadership and strong, clearheaded proposals and Chen's involvement with a wide range of clubs and organizations is the combination SA needs now. It's a mix that would keep the organization moving in the direction current President Sam McMahon has led.
We appreciate the optimism of Impact Party candidates Erin Lachaal and Myriam Diomande. Both candidates came with a fully laid out platform, but unfortunately, their proposals lacked appropriate vetting or rehearsal, making their presentation less than impactful. After The Spectrum held its endorsement speeches and Q&A sessions Sunday (full videos available under the Multimedia tab at ubspectrum.com), selecting Value was a unanimous decision.
Ingram and Chen, particularly the former, presented a series of feasible proposals. Moving SA staff orientation off campus and coordinating the office hours of executive board members are common sense ideas that the opposing running mates also mentioned. (Though it is worth noting Impact would like to add a staff-building retreat in addition to orientation but did not have a financial quote for it, which troubled us.) Offering video tutorials for clubs new to navigating SA membership and bringing back the SA book exchange are positive Value propositions that could be achieved with relative ease.
As we have seen this year with McMahon - who proposed adding a holiday bus service during his candidacy and accomplished it almost immediately - realistic goals are invaluable.
The Value Party, for all its realism, also had a few more lofty goals that gave us pause. Given the website Nick Johns and his Spirit Party promised last year that never came to fruition, Ingram's plan to track all SA forms online should be looked at skeptically. His plan to open an SA office in Harriman Hall also seems a bit optimistic considering the energy and time involved in securing and setting up a space, not to mention staffing it regularly, on South Campus.
Though these goals are possible, they would require a level of dedication and institutional maneuvering from the candidates that would be remarkable at the very least (and perhaps unprecedented).
Ingram articulated these proposals largely on his own; Chen had little to communicate save his experience with clubs around campus. The endorsement holds, as president and VP are a package deal, but we would like to see more out of Chen in regard to addressing the student body and forming his own plans for moving SA forward. At the moment, the president carries this ticket.
The case is similar with Impact. Diomande made many of the same statements as her running mate. She added exclamations that SA's image needs to be fixed and that there need to be "changes," but specifics were sparse. She does offer a positive personality and vivaciousness that we applaud.
Lachaal, a Buffalo native, had some positive ideas - particularly increasing access of UB students to the cultural heart of Buffalo downtown with subsidized tickets to events and advocating for more involvement with the community. This university and its students are often disconnected from the rich fabric of this vibrant city, and any proposal to change that is worth considering.
The majority of the Impact candidates' ideas are simply not viable or are misplaced. Plans for a website with the stated cost of "free" sound unrealistic. Further, a plan to implement a "tier" system for the way clubs receive funding was not fully laid out and runs the risk of over burdening some clubs at the expense of others; it leaves a lot of room for subjectivity.
Ingram's proposal for greater leniency with clubs' fundraising is simple and necessary. As it stands, if a club cannot raise 50 percent of its budget by a set deadline, it can lose SA funding at the Senate's discretion. Ingram's plan, as opposed to the tier system, is both intuitive and easy to put into practice.
Impact's proposal to cut down SA staff and increase the pay of those remaining is foolhardy. Many students work egregious hours for little or no pay; there are greater issues to consider than giving a wage hike to SA members for having to work 15-20 hours per week.
Overall, if the past year has taught us anything about SA, it is that the ability to achieve realistic proposals is far more important than coming up with unattainable goals that sound original and creative.
The danger here is two-fold - broken promises from student government have a way of engendering apathy toward elections, worsening the perception of a process that already has an image problem. Second, time spent chasing pipe dreams could be better spent making the more modest changes students could benefit from immediately.
The Value Party gives the voter far more promise in the long run, despite the impression their opposition's ideas might leave at first blush. Vote Value.