Kimia Dargahi

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Jon Stewart is hilarious. But I wouldn't want him to be president of the United States.

Similarly, Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu, the Texas Travesty candidates for Student Government president and vice president, have been entertaining for us all, yet they should not be elected to lead SG. SG is the official voice of students. If you want your voice to be taken seriously, vote not for joke candidates but for leaders who will listen to you and represent you well. These leaders are Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi.

Though I am not involved in SG, I am a student leader who has seen SG work from the outside. I have seen SG succeed, and I have seen SG fail. For example, SG is the reason the Student Activity Center exists. SG has created study spaces accessible to students at all hours. SG allows student leaders to advocate on behalf of students from all backgrounds to the Capitol, UT System Board of Regents and the city of Austin.

Despite these accomplishments, SG is at times disconnected from the student body. Jones saw this disconnect and launched a campaign for president with a very open and sincere theme of "Let's Talk Texas" to involve the rest of the student body. This campaign is the first I have seen in SG to emphasize student input as the top priority. Furthermore, the platform points Jones and his running mate, Dargahi, have gathered include important issues such as increasing student safety, quality of campus life, and building bridges across communities.

The primary role of the SG president is to navigate between the students, faculty, System chancellor and regents, University president, alumni and all other involved parties to convey student concerns and wishes. Next year is pivotal, with an Austin mayor, Texas governor and UT System chancellor all with less than one year of experience in their positions. Jones is the only candidate who has already established the essential relationships with administrators, faculty and staff. These relationships are crucial for an incoming SG president, who needs to effectively advocate for students during this time of extreme change.

That is the reality of how SG operates on this campus. The portrayal of Rotnofsky and Mandalapu as reformists who are going to make SG relevant to all is false advertising. It is impossible to reform a system unless you’ve been there — as an insider — to see that system fail and succeed. The candidate who is elected to lead SG needs to have experience within the system and knowledge of how the University works. Jones is that candidate.

Jones has the experience within SG, serving previously as chief of staff for Horacio Villarreal and currently as speaker of the Assembly. He knows how to work within the system while also understanding the issues and necessary changes to improve student life on campus. Dargahi brings a different perspective, with a brief stint in SG as an agency director and a wide variety of outside experience through other organizations. This team would not need a semester to learn the ropes. Jones’ wide experience, paired with Dargahi’s fresh perspective, would catalyze the changes that we want to see on our campus.   

Many people have latched onto what they believe are ideological inconsistencies in the campaign’s rhetoric. The most notable of these is campus carry, on which Jones’ stance has been misrepresented. When the Texas Senate introduced SB 11, a bill enabling campus carry, a group of students, including myself, grew concerned and reached out to Jones to help us voice our opposition formally through SG. This resulted in AR 30 being passed in SG, urging lawmakers to consider student safety by opposing campus carry, a sentiment echoed by Chancellor William McRaven.

AR 30 could not have succeeded without Jones’ support. Jones and Dargahi are the only candidates who have the experience, relationships and understanding necessary to work with the Texas Legislature to effectively lobby for the student body.

I have seen a lot of student leaders in my time at this University, and no one is more passionate about the University, about making a difference at UT and about reaching out to the many student groups here than Jones and Dargahi. If you care about the future of our University and want our student voice to be taken seriously, vote for Jones and Dargahi on Wednesday and Thursday at utexasvote.org.

Kruijs is a Plan II and public health senior from The Woodlands. She is not officially involved in the Jones-Dargahi campaign.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Baylor Morrison and Matthew Normyle, who were running as a Student Government Executive Alliance team, said Sunday they are planning to withdraw from the election, though their names will still appear on the ballot.

Morrison, who was running for SG president, said he and Normyle, who was running for vice president, mutually decided to withdraw from the race because of the time commitment of campaigning. Morrison said he and Normyle learned valuable lessons from the time they spent in the campaign process.

“This whole election process has been a lot of fun and a crazy learning experience for Matthew and me,” Morrison said in a statement to The Daily Texan. “But in the course of the campaign, a lot of things fell to the way side, like schoolwork and other organizations we’re a part of. As great as it’s been, we’ve got to honor our existing commitments and admit we’ve stretched ourselves too thin … We wish all the candidates good luck with the rest of their campaigns and hope for a big turnout on Wednesday.”

Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms.

Election Supervisory Board Chair Nick Molina said the two have not yet sent an official letter of withdrawal from the race. If Morrison and Normyle send in a signed letter, they will then be officially out of the Executive Alliance race. Even if they formally withdraw, their names will still appear on the ballot, because Friday to have names removed, Molina said. 

“As of right now, they’re still in the race,” Molina said. 

If they hope to endorse another Executive Alliance, Morrison and Normyle cannot formally do so until they officially send their withdrawal to the Election Supervisory Board. 

Morrison and Normyle’s platform centered around a “Happy Campus Initiative,” which pushed for therapy puppies, more eco-friendly water bottle fillers and more live music on campus. Their platform also included expanding Freshman Leadership Organization and Camp Texas, as well as implementing a service project after Round Up, an annual weekend of music and festivities hosted by the Greek community.

Morrison and Normyle’s Facebook page, Baylor Matthew 2015, had 404 likes at the time of publication. In an online poll hosted by the Daily Texan Opinion section, Morrison and Normyle totaled 3 percent of the roughly 5,000 votes. 

Kimia Dargahi, who is running for vice president, said she is not sure how the withdrawal will affect the race. 

“I can’t predict how it’s going to affect the race,” Dargahi said. “I honestly did not know how they were doing and how they were campaigning. Social media, and even The Daily Texan poll, can be misleading at times.”

David Maly, who is running for president, said he is also unsure how the withdrawal will affect the race. 

“I thought they were good guys,” Maly said. “I don’t know how much support they had; I don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

For Executive Alliance candidates Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu the withdrawal came out of left field. 

“It was a surprise, because we, Rohit and I, would cross paths with them at different speaking events, and they seemed very into the race,” Rotnofsky said. “It did come out of nowhere.”  

The three remaining executive alliances — Braydon Jones and Dargahi, Maly and Stephen Svatek, and Rotnofsky and Mandalapu — will participate in a debate The Daily Texan will host Monday at 7 p.m. in the Union Ballroom.