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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

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The Observer endorses Colin Williams for USG president


Forthcoming year necessitates finance expertise, balanced approach

The position of Undergraduate Student Government (USG) president is arguably one of the most important roles a Case Western Reserve University undergraduate could fill. From channelling the voice of undergraduate students in meetings with campus administrators to leading an umbrella organization that supports more than 150 student groups, the USG president must move seamlessly from chief advocate to chief operator.

Given the importance of the position and the wide-reaching impact it has on our readership, the editorial board of The Observer marks a new annual precedent this year by endorsing a candidate for USG president.

Leveraging our reporting and editorial staff, this past week a diverse subset of The Observer’s editorial board interviewed each candidate seeking the USG presidency. While the overall field of choices appeared lackluster at times, each candidate brought a unique set of qualifications and specializations to the table.

Following the interviews, the editorial board believed these lackluster feelings were symptomatic of USG’s structural difficulties, in which key issues like financing are isolated and many students – such as humanities and undeclared majors – are largely under- represented.

The editorial board scored each of the candidates on several criteria, including his or her ability to advocate on behalf of students, represent USG to the greater campus community, and manage the internal operations of one of the university’s largest organizations.

Following exclusive meetings with each of the candidates and undergoing significant internal debate, The Observer unanimously endorses current USG vice president of finance Colin Williams for USG president.

Williams outpaced the other candidates in areas regarding advocacy, USG’s role in the greater university context, priorities management, and financial expertise.

According to Williams, USG is the organization that serves to bridge the gap between undergraduate students and CWRU administration. He stated the role of USG is to “support the students,” which differed from some other candidates who said USG’s role is to “support the administration.”

Each of the candidates were asked to cite two issues affecting students that they would have to address as USG president. All of the candidates referenced the university’s proposed smoking ban as a future area of work but varied greatly on their second choice. Of all of the candidates, however, Williams was the only individual to cite the transition of CWRU’s next vice president of student affairs as an issue facing the next USG president.

Undergraduates frequently mention to The Observer they feel campus administrators are out of touch with the student body, and Williams’ statement signifies that he understands the reality of this disconnect. He stated USG needs to play a proactive role in acclimating the next vice president of student affairs, which would help ensure the student voice is heard and understood by a key university official.

Williams also expressed a finite understanding that USG is one of several umbrella organizations on campus, such as the Residence Hall Association, University Program Board, and Class Officer Collective. He noted USG should serve to bridge the gap between students and administrators, while emphasizing it needs to do a better job of cooperating and communicating with its fellow umbrella organizations. “USG is not good at everything,” he said.

Concerns surrounding USG’s internal operations, particularly financing, ultimately led The Observer to endorsing Williams as the next student government president. Many of the candidates had the potential to be a great USG president – if the organization was not once again emerging with a massive rollover.

With his experience as vice president of finance playing into his favor, Williams was the only candidate to offer tangible ideas on how to reduce the organization’s rollover. From decreasing restrictions on student groups to allocating more money with the expectation it won’t all be used, Williams brought options to the table. Williams also voiced support for the organization’s new dynamic rolling funding model while being open-minded to new solutions.

Put simply, Williams represents the best choice for undergraduate students at this mo- ment in school history. The student body needs a president – and student government – that can balance the priorities of external visibility and advocacy with the necessities of internal management and accountability.

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