There’s a certain balancing act that UPUA runs into when it comes to recruiting qualified student government candidates. On one hand, students with prior leadership experience would be ideal. But a pool of “student leaders” also creates issues — including students with other obligations on their plates or students who don’t necessarily represent the experience of the average Penn State student.
We’d caution those who are considering a position in UPUA — or any other major student government on campus — to give serious thought to the commitment required. Too often, we see students sign up to run for a UPUA position and secure a seat in the assembly, only to step down within months because of an inability to handle the commitment on top of school or other obligations. This turnover rate hurts UPUA and, in turn, the student body — as a search to fill vacant seats detracts from attention paid to real issues.
It’s nothing new that getting students to vote — and sometimes even to run — in the elections can be a challenge for UPUA. Students who don’t pay attention to the elections likely aren’t interested because they don’t feel UPUA’s actions have a direct impact on their lives.
No matter the outcome of its decisions, UPUA still gets to direct how about $140,000 in student money is spent each year. That, alone, should be incentive to care about who’s deciding how that money’s spent.
The deadline to register for a spot on this year’s ballots is tomorrow. From there, campaign season includes debates for those seeking executive positions — The Daily Collegian will participate to help moderate one of them, alongside Onward State — but the focus shouldn’t just be on those running for the top spots.
UPUA isn’t perfect, and much of its success or failure relies on the quality and commitment of those who make up its assembly.
If you think you have a better use for several thousand dollars than Encampment or an iClicker program, if you have a perspective that might be lacking in UPUA’s current administration or if you feel passionately about working with other students to try to improve life at University Park, these elections represent one opportunity to make a difference — as long as you’re in it for the long run.