We need to give students a reason to care about their campus government

If you are like most students, you probably see very little reason to vote tomorrow. During the course of my campaign, I have had the pleasure to speak to many different student organizations across campus and take part in forums where the various candidates for office discussed their vision for our University. There is, however, one undeniable fact that I have found during the course of my campaign: the vast majority of students at the Capstone do not care about this election.

For most students, the Student Government Association is an entity they read about in passing while they make their way to the sports section of the CW, a name on a door at the Ferguson Center or the source of far too many emails that, quite frankly, those students do not care about. Most students do not see how the SGA affects their lives in any real way, so they do not care who happens to be in charge of it.

I am running for vice president of student affairs to change that perception. SGA needs to be more than a faceless entity that students only interact with during campaign season. The Office of Student Affairs is often perceived to be removed from the students in our community. It is charged with oversight of those matters that relate to the affairs of students.

As you can imagine, such a wide jurisdiction often leads to a bloated bureaucracy that does not function in the manner students deserve. That arrangement must change. On my first day in office, I will restructure the Office of Student Affairs into a more departmentalized model that will be accountable to you, the students of our university.

Apathy toward the SGA cannot be combated unless those in its leadership are realistic about what we can and cannot accomplish. Much ink has been spilled discussing the recent drug-related arrests on this campus. I have heard students ask the candidates what they will do in response to those arrests.

Here is the truth: If the police have probable cause to arrest a student and choose to do so, there is nothing the SGA can do to stop it. Although we cannot prevent such arrests, we can make sure that students are educated about the rights they enjoy when they deal with the police. Toward that end, I will use the Office of Student Affairs to organize events to educate students about the nature of the rights they enjoy and how to invoke them if necessary.

I do not pretend that any one campaign or administration can by itself completely change the way students at the Capstone view their SGA. If perceptions are going to change, however, the process must begin sometime, and I propose it begin tomorrow. If you honor me with your vote, I promise one thing above all else: I will give you a reason to care.

Hamilton Bloom is running for the SGA position of vice president of student affairs. He currently serves as the chair of the SGA Senate Committee on Student Affairs.