Fowler presidency fulfills its promises

Our View

Last year, after James Fowler was inaugurated as Student Government Association president, The Crimson White wrote that, during his campaign, “a typical Fowler sentence included a noun, a verb and ‘transparency.’” Over his year in office, which ended yesterday, he certainly kept that commitment.

From posting all SGA expenditures online to opening up Constitution Revision Committee meetings to frequently updating the press on the everyday operations of the SGA, Fowler and his administration have maintained a spirit of openness and transparency throughout the year. The results have been promising.

Students have been more aware of SGA projects, and thus more able to take advantage of SGA resources. In the press, we have also benefited from the ability to better inform our readers about SGA initiatives as a result of this administrations much-improved communication effort.

More than just communicating with the student body, though, Fowler made a genuine attempt to include every community in this SGA. Starting with director applications last year, the SGA sought out people from every social circle and background to join their departments and work on projects. They also brought other groups into the block seating process, and even relabeled it as “Student Organization Seating” to send a signal that more groups can and are being accommodated.

In the process, Fowler has established what we think is a valuable precedent. Opposing candidates for SGA office may stem from different communities on campus, but once elected, their obligation is to the entire student body. Fulfilling that obligation requires bringing in a diverse group of leaders and making SGA resources open and available, as the current administration has done.

Good leaders surround themselves with good people. Fowler’s decision to bring leaders from across campus into the SGA at the beginning of his term was an important factor in his success. The highly motivated students who have worked in his administration have served the student body well.

Although we long for a culture in which any student who works hard to gain SGA experience and campaign for SGA office can be elected, just giving different types of leaders a seat at the table has made a tremendous difference.

Finally, the new constitution, spearheaded by the Fowler administration and approved by voters in February, creates the opportunity for different branches within the SGA to hold one another accountable. The previous constitution had been inadequately updated, and no one was quite sure what guidelines the SGA was supposed to operate under. There was much ambiguity about how the SGA was supposed to conduct routine tasks, like dispersing SGA funds. Now, there is a clear, overarching set of rules.

Those three principles– transparency, accountability and inclusivity – have defined this administration. While it is mind numbing that those principles were not embedded in the SGA before, we commend Fowler and his team for recognizing the need to address them.

Grant Cochran, who has succeeded Fowler as SGA president, has committed to building on the progress of the past year. We wish him well and hope to see the SGA continue to work for a more unified student body. Fowler has certainly laid a good foundation on which Cochran and other future leaders can build.

 

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White editorial board.