University Politics

Barillari: Internal complications hurt all governments, especially student versions

In any organization, especially a governing body, the internal structure and leaders in place reflect the results that body produces. Whether those results are economic stability from the government of the United States or a better use of your student fee from the Student Association here at Syracuse University, tangible differences are not only expected, but demanded.

But just as what we need and anticipate from the federal government can be compromised by internal complications, the same can arguably be said for SA.

Several external results have been produced by the organization in the past year, like Impact Week, but efforts like this have not been the core of the proceedings.

From weekly elections to spending meetings debating codes to restructuring committees and redefining positions like the vice president and chief of staff — the focus has mainly been internal. This must change.

Though the association needs efficient inner-workings, a renewed sense of accountability is in order to ensure that the student leaders of the next session will work to produce tangible results. This is a concept that the next president should make a defining characteristic of his or her administration, in contrast to the current situation.

A lack of accountability and direction toward tangible results by the members of SA is a reason qualified leaders leave the organization and why new members often don’t stay around for long, a point ex-Chief of Staff Taylor Carr stresses.

One year ago, Carr was preparing to possibly assume the role of SA president as he campaigned against Dylan Lustig for the position. When Lustig won the election, he asked Carr to be his chief of staff. Carr accepted, he said, on the definition of the role being a trusted adviser to the president.

Four months into Lustig’s term, Carr resigned, saying SA had become a “network of friends, not a network of leaders,” and the irresponsibility of the people involved in the organization was prohibiting the completion of initiatives.

He said many other student leaders left the organization for the same reasons following the turnover from Neal Casey’s administration to Lustig’s.

SA has struggled to retain not only quality leaders, but members in general; a situation Board of Elections and Membership Chair Jenn Bacolores has called SA’s “revolving door.”

Though having full representation of the entire student body community is fundamental in making SA truly representative of SU, recruiting and taking on only the most hardworking and qualified student leaders still must come first.

The focus on restructuring committees and recruiting only to achieve a number should be disbanded this next semester. Accountability should be the main goal, as it often seems the association is forgetting the larger picture which is actually making a difference.

Voting on MySlice for the 2012 SA election closes Thursday at 11:59 p.m. Whoever is confirmed as president on Friday needs to be aware of this issue and make it a point to focus on creating initiatives with a realistic timeline and supplying services that students can experience within the next year, and not just at the end of the session.

Though a cohesive internal body is essential, so is the main goal of a student government: to make the university a better place for all students. I challenge the next president to make his or her session more results-based than the last, and to utilize the organization to its fullest potential. I think every one of your constituents, and especially Carr, would agree.

Rachael Barillari is a junior political science and Middle Eastern studies major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at rebarill@syr.edu.

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