Keep the Students First
At the mid-semester point of fall 2001, striking differences between this the current Student Association executive board and last year's are manifest.
This year's SA is regaining the confidence of the UB community by proving to be highly effective and in tune with the needs of the student body, despite having raised some eyebrows at its handling of the mysterious resignation of an elected New York State Student Assembly Delegate and his under-publicized replacement.
The previous SA was highly ineffectual, partially due to the president's lack of a coherent vision and failure to command respect from students, faculty or administrators. The executive board had little focus, and the few campus initiatives attained were at best minimally beneficial to the student body. SA's crowning glory last year was the distribution of a student telephone directory and a "good year socially," according to former SA President Monica Monyo.
This year's SA administration is proving to be far more capable and professional. They have demonstrated an understanding of campus needs and a unified focus toward solving the student body's problems - and have brought about concrete results, rather than mere lip service.
An example of their ability to anticipate and initiate solutions was seen in their response to the Sept. 11 attacks. By the weekend following that Tuesday, SA successfully provided free busing to New York City for grieving students.
SA is now addressing the specific need for a means by which students can easily research the quality of professors and courses before registering by placing the results of course evaluations online. While the results have not yet been posted, SA reports that the system will be online before spring 2001 registration begins.
SA is also developing a means by which students will be able to directly exchange used books. Once open, this online book exchange will allow students to bypass the University Bookstore at significant savings.
Stronger relationships with other segments of the university also facilitate the effectiveness of this year's SA. Clubs and top university administration members have attested to an improvement in the quality of their interaction with officials this year. SA has also become noticeably more visible with its weekly "SA Days" throughout campus and increased distribution of its publicity magazine, Visions.
Despite its evident sense of responsibility to the students, SA recently made an unacceptable decision. Last spring, the student body elected three NYSSA delegates into office. But, when the e-board learned elected delegate John Haumesser did not return to the university this fall, they failed to announce the vacancy of his position to the student body.
In fact, the SA Web site currently reads, "Student Association sends two delegates to the New York State Student Assembly. These delegates are elected by the students of UB." It makes no mention of the fact that three delegates were actually elected, not two, and neither has the executive board.
SA President Christian Oliver appointed a new NYSSA delegate to what is constitutionally an elected position over the weekend without student consultation or even notification - a serious lack of proper public disclosure. It is questionable the issue would have been brought to the student body's attention at all had not appeared in The Spectrum Monday.
This year's SA is a marked improvement over last year's, and as such deserves much credit. Their reticence on Haumesser's absence, however, arouses suspicion and damages their credibility. SA should make careful efforts to be more forthcoming in the future or it will risk earning the reputation of an organization dedicated to furthering its own interests instead of the student body's.