The Daily Texan Editorial Board endorses John Lawler and Terrence Maas for Student Government president and vice president. The Lawler/Maas campaign has made several pledges to the student body that include improving safety and promoting sustainability on campus. Though the campaign uses many vacuous buzzwords, such a “accountability” and “affordability,” Lawler’s track record shows he is capable of making progress in many of the areas he and Maas identify in their campaign.
This year, contention surrounded the proposed tuition increases, and though next year is not a tuition-setting year, it will prove no different. Lawler, who has served as a College of Liberal Arts representative for nearly three years, is knowledgeable of the tuition-setting process and understands that next year, students will need to lobby the Legislature to minimize higher education budget cuts. He recognizes that increased state support for higher education can ultimately alleviate any need for tuition increases in the future.
In addition, Lawler and Maas are committed to advocating student issues at the city level, such as city single-member districts and neighborhood alliances. Lawler served for two years on the West Campus Neighborhood Association, which reviews and provides feedback on proposed changes to the neighborhood before implementation. When the city proposed to add 400 parking meters to the West Campus area, Lawler brought students into the discussion and fought for the neighborhood to receive more of the revenue from the meters.
Though Maas, who has no experience in SG, can bring a fresh perspective to the organization, he has a lot to learn about how not only SG but the University operates. Maas has not yet been tasked with engaging the University, but as vice president, he would serve as the chair of the Student Services Budget Committee, a responsibility that requires extensive knowledge of organizations and students on campus. Despite his inexperience with SG, Maas serves on the Inter-Cooperative Council board of directors, where he is partly responsible for overseeing a multimillion dollar budget. This experience will serve him well on the SSBC.
Lawler touts the referendum he authored on tuition, while working as a representative in SG. While it is important to gather student input, we hope Lawler does not rely on referenda as the only means to engage with students. Instead, he and Maas must work to mobilize the student body to voice their opinions on the issues that matter to them. Lawler should realize that the bolder his demands are, the more student support he needs, and with less student support, he may have to make some compromises.
Nonetheless, we are confident that Lawler and Maas are qualified and able to lead the student body next year. Though we admire the sincerity of opponents Thor Lund and Wills Brown, we believe their shallow understanding of University and SG operations and their lack of understanding of the roles of SG president and vice president would be detrimental to their term in office.
While no candidates are perfect, Lawler and Maas would be best equipped to lead the University next year as it continues to face a variety of internal and external challenges.