Will Rotnofsky-Mandalapu be able to effect real change?


As of yesterday, #RotMan2015 is officially a thing.  

Now more than ever before, though, the stakes for Student Government are high.   

When I took a step back from the frenzy and excitement, I wondered if perhaps Rotnofsky-Mandalapu are too progressive. In the broader scheme of things, SG maintains itself because of the same things that people don't like, namely the lack of diversity and transparency.  

Year after year, students in SG drink the Kool-Aid and assimilate into the system quickly and quietly. The reason the general student body doesn't hear about the ins and outs of SG is that they aren't a part of it.  

Elite? Yes. Good at doing what its job description says? Sure. The general student body's favorite student organization? Probably not. 

But when it comes down to it, UT has, and always will, run somewhat smoothly because of the lack of diversity within SG. We put our trust in these people to keep UT afloat, and until this past election season, nothing was done about it. 

This idea of exclusion is one that Rotnofsky and Mandalapu touched on several times during the race. It comes as no surprise that their platform resonated with many — after all, SG isn't a representation of the student body and definitely doesn't get to hear the opinions of all students as much as they should or want to. As more and more people rallied behind the refreshing ideas of the comedic duo, it became clear that a lot of students wanted change in SG and viewed Rotnosfky-Mandalapu as the vehicle to deliver it.  

But — and as much as it pains me to say this — is UT ready for this change?  

Yes, SG has problems. But just like the dysfunctional family that they are, SG is suited for a leader that understands the nuances of the system. The benefit of Braydon and Kimia is that they have a deep understanding of how SG works and would have been able to continue to run it in the fashion that it always has been.  

While this would have angered some, it would have eventually resulted in all the social media hype dying down and things returning to normal, which, as the past has shown us, isn't all that bad after all. A few bills will get passed, something will be changed to a 24 hour study center and another initiative for student safety will come to fruition. No harm, no foul--SG will do what it does best: do stuff that we plebeians can't understand.  

Opponents of the traditional SG candidates voted for RotMan because they didn't want more of the same, and I applaud them for that. In the past few weeks, a statement about inclusion and student voice was made loud and clear.  

However, I can't help but think that more of the same is all that UT is equipped for. We're used to being in the dark about campus issues. It's kind of our thing. Maybe it is time, as Rotnofsky-Mandalapu assured us, to give students a voice and more active role in their UT communities. I certainly hope this is true, but a part of me knows that getting SG members to rally behind such an inexperienced pair will be a struggle — one I hope doesn't break the two "good old boys." 

 I don't believe effective change is possible at this University when it comes from SG. To be quite frank, it doesn't have to. At best, we are here for four or so years. What happens here — in Student Government at least — doesn't change the world. I'm OK with that. While no steps get taken forward, neither are ones backward. In my mind, that's good enough.  

I commend Rotnofsky-Mandalapu for an incredible campaign and for saying the things that a lot of us were thinking. Curious is an understatement about how I feel regarding the coming weeks as Rotnofsky and Mandalapu take office. Good luck to both of them and may the odds be ever in your favor. 

Berkeley is an associate editor.