Student Government elections at UT have never drawn a large turnout, and this year’s competition for Student Body president and vice president will likely be no exception. Presidential candidates Kori Rady and Kenton Wilson, flanked by vice-presidential candidates Taylor Strickland and Caroline Carter, respectively, are members of the same fraternal organization and are both members of traditional spirit groups. Much of what we saw from both campaigns was almost identical, including their campaign videos, which were nearly the same frame-by-frame. With such similar resumes and styles, many students may think it’s pointless to cast a ballot. However, following interviews with the candidates, a debate co-moderated by Daily Texan Editor-in-Chief Laura Wright and long conversations about the teams’ respective qualifications, this editorial board has teased out enough key differences between the candidates to endorse Rady-Strickland.
Our reasoning? First off, Rady demonstrated a better understanding of how SG actually works, recognizing limitations to legislation and the importance of relationships with administrators, indicated by his commitment to the uRide program and the student scholarship initiative.
On the other hand, there is no doubt that Wilson and Carter have run the better campaign. They have been on more organizational listservs, the subject of more Facebook statuses and at the front of more meetings. They also campaigned on more innovative policy points — particularly the presidential council (a committee gathering student leaders from organizations around campus) and their plans to pursue a student activity center on East Riverside Drive. Miles away from the traditional core of UT’s campus, East Riverside has become a hub of affordable student housing, and a student activity center would be hugely beneficial to the growing number of Longhorns who live in the area.
But the idea of tackling such a massive project — one that would likely need the support of a major donor, the UT System Board of Regents and the UT president — is, quite simply, unrealistic. While we appreciate the effort to be forward-thinking and innovative, we can’t help but prefer Rady’s realistic, achievable platform points that will concretely improve life on the 40 Acres in the short-term, and we were disappointed in the Wilson-Carter campaign’s inability to admit the difficulty of achieving one of their main platform points.
It was also frustrating, however, that the tensest exchange of the debate came when Rady and Wilson sparred over the effects that a fall break would have on fraternity and sorority recruitment. The two candidates went back and forth for several minutes, longer than they did on any other issue. Considering the fact that the Greek community’s concerns pale in comparison to other campus groups’ concerns over the initiative — particularly the possible impact that an extra day off would have on natural science lab schedules — this focus on Greek candidates was disconcerting.
Both Rady’s and Wilson’s previous experiences are key to their understanding of the role of the president. Wilson’s position as speaker of the assembly allows him to stand at the helm of the assembly and required him to know all the rules and keep order. However, the position also makes being involved in actual legislation much more difficult. The speaker cannot be involved in legislation itself and would have to move out of the position temporarily and have another SG member replace him in order to jump in and have a say in the proceedings. This may be the reason Wilson has focused on making initiatives happen without legislation. Rady, as external financial director on the executive board, worked closely with the current alliance headed by Villarreal and Williams. Rady has repeatedly cited his experience and shadowing the alliance, which has given him the edge on understanding how to push forward SG initiatives at the executive level.
Both teams have proven themselves to be incredibly well spoken, knowledgeable and interested in student issues. But, at the end of the day, we are more confident with Kori Rady and Taylor Strickland’s realistic platform, experience with SG procedure, relationships with administrators and engagement with underrepresented groups on campus. Students can vote for the SG executive alliance along with the other campus representative positions at www.utexasvote.org Wednesday and Thursday. We encourage you to vote Rady-Strickland.