In 2011, The Daily Pennsylvanian was blown away by Dan Bernick during his campaign for Undergraduate Assembly vice president. “He’s a freshman … and just check out his ideas,” was the rationale in our endorsement. Two years later, we’re a lot more jaded. And it’s not just us: disenchantment with the UA is apparent in the assembly itself as well as among the student body.
It’s no secret what’s wrong with the UA: both vice presidential candidates agree that almost nothing has gotten done in the past year and that cohesion among the executive board has been lacking.
With these critical problems facing the UA, we think the vice presidential candidate best suited to unify the UA and complete initiatives is Chris Cortes.
Our decision came down to three main issues: (1) who understands the role of VP best and will best carry it out; (2) who will foster the most cohesion within the assembly; and (3) who will get the most done.
The VP’s job is primarily to work with student groups. Chris fundamentally understands this and sees the UA as a facilitator for helping student groups to achieve their goals.
On the other side of the debate, Cortes’ opponent, Gabe Delaney, has large goals — ones even he admits might not be achievable in one year. But we’re not fully on board with his goals. One of Gabe’s major projects is a Penn mobile app. However, some on the UA have noted that Gabe’s push for the app may not be aligned with what the rest of the body wants. It also may not be so necessary given apps that already exist.
Additionally, Gabe has made it clear he thinks the UA should take stances on national policy issues. Indeed, his most concrete achievement this year was authoring a set of political guidelines for the UA. Yet, a recent DP poll tellingly revealed that students think this should be the UA’s last priority.
With that being said, we’re concerned that if Gabe oversees Steering — the VP’s primary job — he will use it as a platform for the large issues he is trying to accomplish. This runs the likely and dangerous risk of alienating student groups, when so much progress has been made in Steering over the past semester.
While Chris doesn’t have goals on the scale of Gabe’s, we think he is more practical and his goals are more achievable. Most of all, his goals are those of student groups. We honestly believe he wants to learn what students care about and focus on completing those agendas, rather than entering the UA year with one of his own. It’s telling that Gabe’s support hails from predominantly political groups, whereas Chris has a wider base of support, including among diversity groups — important in an election in which both candidates argue they are strong on diversity.
Chris will also foster better cohesion among the executive board and higher-up positions. This year, we’ve seen the results that come with a divided executive board. We believe Chris will work better with Abe Sutton, the uncontested candidate for UA President. We think they see eye-to-eye and Chris will be more willing to learn from a leader most student groups in Steering have been impressed with.
These relationships are key and are what make us believe that under Chris, more will get done.
Our endorsement does come with caveats: we would like to see more initiative from Chris and neither candidate blows us out of the water, but ultimately we think Chris will produce tangible results that both students and student groups care about.
Whoever wins has large issues to address, such as following up on issues after Steering and maintaining relations inside and outside the UA. The outgoing VP, Abe, handled both well, and whoever assumes his role has big shoes to fill.Comments powered by Disqus
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