The Associated Student Government is frequently criticized for its lack of visibility and historical inability to impact its constituents. The editorial board has been pointing this out for years, but it still came as a shock to hear nearly every candidate for student body president and vice president admit the issue exists at Thursday’s debate hosted by The University Star.
This heavily influenced the decision of which two candidates to endorse. ASG’s main role is to act as the voice of the student body while bringing concrete and worthwhile goals to the administration. The editorial board believes presidential candidate Tiffany Young and vice presidential candidate Sean Quiñones to be the pairing most capable of having a productive and relevant administration.
The decision was much debated and not unanimous. Young and Quiñones have their shortcomings, but they are both personable and levelheaded, which are critical traits if one hopes to successfully connect with both students and administrators.
Young, a current ASG senator and committee chair, understands the mechanics of the organization. Most importantly, she has experience in authoring resolutions and proposals, including the revised ASG constitution included on the ballot. If approved by the student body, the new constitution will reduce the senate from 60 to 45 members and rebrand the organization as “Student Government,” among other changes. Young knows the ins and outs of the new constitution better than anyone and would be able to help the organization through the transition.
This kind of experience is exactly what ASG needs, and unfortunately is not what John Willms, one of Young’s opponents, has to offer. Willms has no experience with ASG, which he says will bring a fresh pair of eyes to the organization. Willms’ passion for Texas State and desire to change the reputation of ASG is commendable, but his naiveté and “I am just a regular student” schtick would not equate to a productive or high-quality administration.
Willms also built his platform around initiatives that should be at the bottom of the student government’s priority list. Most Bobcats would probably not object to the installation of hammocks across campus, but they would likely want their student body president to focus on more pressing issues such as parking and transportation and the rising cost of higher education.
Quentin De La Garza, the third presidential candidate, is the diametric opposite of Willms. He acknowledges that ASG has been lackluster in previous years but, unlike Willms, has the necessary experience in the organization to truly make an impact on campus. De La Garza also has one of the strongest visions, running on a platform of helping Texas State students feel safe on campus, simplifying the class registration system and raising the university’s ranking as a veteran-friendly institution.
However, the editorial board’s concern with De La Garza is not his vision, but his demeanor. De La Garza’s passion for Texas State is unquestionable, but it translates as an intimidating passion. Even if De La Garza’s stern, almost unapproachable demeanor at Thursday’s debate was a result of nerves, the editors still worry about his ability to stay calm and collected when interacting with administrators during the many committee meetings the president is required to attend.
There is one final presidential candidate, Abdual Muhialdin. He did not attend last week’s debate, which has prevented the editorial board from being able to form a concrete position on his platform in comparison to his opponents.
There is now only one eligible candidate running for ASG vice president, Quiñones. While it may seem gratuitous to endorse Quiñones for the position, he already had the editorial board’s vote before his opponent, Christian Carlson, was disqualified. This is not to say that Carlson would have been a bad choice for vice president, but rather that Quiñones is a better one.
Carlson was a solid candidate, but the editorial board feels the Young-Quiñones combination could better unify the senate while presenting a nice dichotomy.
Quiñones’ goals include diversifying the senate, improving dining options on campus and strengthening ASG’s relationship with the city council. Young’s goals revolve more around pride and traditions, academics and improving services for veterans. There is not much overlap between their initiatives, or personalities, for that matter. This could be a formula for success following the concept of divided government as a measure to balance competing interests.
The editorial board encourages each of the candidates, not just Young and Quiñones, to better educate themselves on the issues facing Texas State. An audience member at Thursday’s debate asked about the possibility of a bus fee increase, and De La Garza was the only candidate who pointed out that an increase had already been passed through a student referendum during last year’s election. Additionally, none of the candidates were able to give satisfying answers to questions about veteran services or the Counseling Center’s struggle to meet the demands of students’ mental health needs.
Quiñones has effectively secured the vice president position at this point. For the presidency, the foremost priority is electing someone who can serve as the face of the student body and maintain an amicable relationship between their constituents and the administration. Young is the candidate most capable of accomplishing this.