Following last week’sex post facto decision allowing Zach Ogle ’15 to run against incumbent Shawon Jackson ’15 for the office of USG president, the Editorial Board conducted interviews to determine our endorsement position in this upcoming election.After sitting down with both candidates, the Board believes that Shawon Jackson ’15 is the better choice for USG president.
Both candidates whom we interviewed showed considerable promise, and this board is ultimately convinced that both are qualified for the position. Jackson, however, is set apart by his broad experience, comprehensive platform and his already-existing relationships with key University decision-makers.
In the past year of Jackson’s tenure, he has operated on a platform seeking in part to broaden the USG’s accessibility. This campaign promise has resulted in the introduction of regular "office hours," a dedicated period for students to bring forth issues or suggestions to Jackson and USG vice president Carmina Mancenon ’14.
Jackson has also substantively contributed to reforms within the USG, for instance, introducing "advisory groups," a series of small teams charged with providing in-house feedback on USG projects. These reforms were complemented by enhanced individual contact between Jackson and other members of the USG, intended to continually assess internal effectiveness and promote a spirit of camaraderie. The Board recognizes that these advisory groups may have had less success than Jackson hoped. We hope that this program will be refined in the coming year so as to increase its efficacy.
While Jackson admits that there was room for improvement in the past year of the USG’s operation, the Board believes that his experience will prove invaluable in a second term. His current platform centers on "moving forward," a theme that encapsulates the importance of learning from past errors and successes and using that experience to improve future USG governance. This theme is a good indicator of what Jackson brings to the table with a year in office behind him. Indeed, Jackson’s reflections on past performance point to a willingness to look critically back upon his first term. The Board encourages this openness to criticism and commends Jackson’s dedication to continual improvement and introspection.
In our discussion, Jackson emphasized three primary policy areas: reforms to the academic advising system, enrichment of interclass relations through a University-wide mentorship program and enhanced collaboration with student leaders at peer institutions. He has shown a strong existing commitment to this last proposition in particular, presently co-chairing this year’s Ivy Policy Conference Planning Team. We feel that these areas are important to the University community and deserving of USG attention.
Jackson aims to further broaden efforts in reaching out to the student body, intending to introduce a new bimonthly newsletter communicating the USG’s activities throughout the year. He also maintains strong existing ties to University leadership, having developed these relationships over the course of his present term. The Board sees this quality as integral to a successful and productive second stay in office.
In all, the Board is convinced that Jackson possesses ideas of greater substance and is equipped with superior means to accomplishing his mandate than his opponent. We feel that his year of experience and existing relationships will enable to be a more effective president than Ogle. We further believe that his platform is more comprehensive, detailed and concrete, which will facilitate effective action during the early days of the coming term. On the basis of these qualifications, we endorse him for USG president.
Irrespective of outcome, however, the Board encourages the eventual victor to focus on small-scale and practically feasible projects in their upcoming term, using his office to develop and promote policy changes that will tangibly and materially impact the student experience. Ultimately, this election represents an ideal forum for meaningful discourse on the office of USG president and on the role of the USG in general. We strongly encourage students to use this election as a means of expressing their views and participating in campus dialogue concerning important issues.
Zach Horton '15, Jillian Wilkowski '15, Brandon Holt '15, Cara Eckholm '14, Daphna LeGall '15, Sean Chen '14, Dylan Ackerman '14, Eve Levin '14, Connor Mui '14 and Varun Sharma '15 recused, either due to conflicts of interest or because they could not attend interviews.