UT alumnus says Student Government must seek diversity

Kennon Kasischke

Still wondering who to vote for this Student Government election? This alumnus doesn’t have the answer but will give you insights to the game.

I’m proud to say I was an outlier within Student Government. It’s smothered in Greeks, Plan II scholars, Spirit Org affiliates and career SG members who have had a plan since their freshman year to one day run it all, yet I stumbled my way into it all my junior year as a sole student looking to advocate for his passions. 

I met some of my best friends, and got to pursue ambitions to better the University all while representing my communities; however, I always knew I could not represent every student. The way I combated this was to surround with people who were different from me. People who knew what they were talking about, didn’t mind getting their hands dirty, and who could connect back to these struggling groups in need of change and support. 

Student Government then in itself has to be diverse and inclusive to bring in as many minds, opinions, and critiques to allow it to grow and prosper. 

Here is where Student Government flounders: it thinks it can simply cast a larger net on students to fix this problem every year. With this wide approach, they hear about issues and then “support” communities by writing resolutions. WRONG. Student Government needs polarizing, passionate, intelligent and driven leaders who want to represent these students and their communities and who are not afraid of getting themselves battered in the process.

Being a figurehead with loads of experience means nothing if you cannot define your stance on issues. At the same time, not taking yourself seriously will cause you to loose respect from the institution itself. 

To practice what you preach means everything in the world of university politics. Take the recent University of Oklahoma scandal: President David Boren took a swift and strong stance on a racist video and established a zero tolerance position from the top down. We need our student leaders to be just has strong-willed and vibrant.

Jones-Dargahi say they want to talk. You can talk all day, but UT students need you to stand up for them and debate Campus Carry, Domestic Partner Benefits, Immigration stances, Gender Neutral Housing, Disability Services and more. Rotnofsky-Mandalapu have shown they’ll stand up for students, but at what point will they take a second to step away from the humorous juggling act to actually have critical and needed conversations.  

As an alumnus of our great institution, I will not be casting a vote March 11th or 12th for the next student body president and vice-president, but I hope current undergraduate and graduate students take it upon themselves to ponder what they think is more important: passion or politesse. 

Kasischke is a recent natural science and liberal arts graduate, 2-year Director of the Queer Student Alliance the LGBTQ Agency of Student Government, a non-Greek/non-spirit group member and one of the main organizers behind the Rady/Strickland 2014 Student Government campaign.