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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Affect your university experience by participating in the upcoming USG elections

O’Brien was elected the UMass Boston student trustee in April of 2013 and has served since

Winston Churchill once snidely noted that “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” This slightly humorous quote seems to suggest that the weakness of democracy comes from the ignorance of the average potential voter. Winston may have a point; all the more reason to prove him wrong!

Here at UMass Boston we are fast approaching our annual Student Government Elections, which begin next week. Last year we had a pretty dismal showing in my opinion (just shy of 1,000 students out of 16,000 participated). We can do better this year. We should, and we will.

I’ve served in the Student Government and I can attest to the great strides we have made this year such as making sure our tuition and fees don’t rise and increasing awareness about campus wide initiatives.

More importantly, Student Government is a conduit and pulpit for any student to voice ideas and concerns to the officials that enact campus policies. Next week, we as students have a real chance to elect leaders who we know, who are in our same classes, or sit next to us at lunch, and who will be just down the hall if we have questions or concerns, much more accessible and accountable than Congress.

Federal and even State elections are inherently different as they are more distanced from the individual voter. In a Student Government election we have a great opportunity to get to know the candidates, make sure they really understand some of the pressing issues on campus, and our votes actually matter (no confusing electoral college nonsense, every single vote counts!)

This year we have a large collection of candidates for both Undergraduate and Graduate Student Government offices. Running for Undergraduate Student Government (USG) President and Vice-President, Ignacio Chaparro and Jen Mai offer a ticket dedicated to better campus services, lowering the cost of education, and planning for tomorrow.

Also running for USG President and Vice-President are Ben Whelihan and Phillip Gustafson who have pledged that, when elected, they would tackle the residual growing pains of the UMB 25 Year Master Plan and make sure the students have a say in campus wide change and getting their most out of their education, fiscally and intellectually.

There are also 32 seats up for election in the USG Senate, keep an eye out for familiar names! Also on the ballot, eligible to be elected by both Undergraduate and Graduate students is the position of Student Trustee. Having served in this role on the UMass Board of Trustees for the past year, Nolan O’Brien (the author of this piece) is running for re-election to continue fighting for increased student access and affordable education.

Running as a freshman with bold fresh ideas is Pranjal Kukreja, who wants a new face to represent UMB at the highest level. Also running are Ericka Gonzalez, Vishwajith Reddy, and Tausir Khan. Keep an eye out for two referendum questions concerning MASSPRIG’s waivable fee and a non-waivable fee to collect funds to assist students in financing study abroad trips.

Participation in Student Government elections is a great way to have a lasting impact on your college experience. Let’s prove Churchill wrong about the intelligence of the average voter. Let’s get to know the candidates a little more, freshen up on the issues, and most importantly let’s make sure that we all go out and vote!

Nolan M. O’Brien, the author, serves as a Student Trustee on the UMass Boston Board of Trustees.