RUSA elections bring student interests forward


As University commencement draws near, members of the Class of 2010 will soon begin to step down from leadership positions on campus, leaving younger generations of Scarlet Knights to step up and continue the work of student organizations. These organizations not only provide students with invaluable leadership experiences, but more importantly, they also make a substantive and sustainable impact on the world around them.

This transition will occur internally in every student organization, as members of each organization internally elect their new executive boards. The leadership transition that will be made by the Rutgers University Student Assembly will be particularly important this year. All undergraduates will — for the first time in University history — have a say this year in who serves as student body president, vice president and treasurer. Instead of having an internal election in which only its members can vote, RUSA will hold an external election that allows all students to vote.

Why is this significant? The answer is quite simple. RUSA is not just a frivolous debate union that merely argues but never actually does anything about real-world issues. Instead, RUSA has an increasingly strong track record of actually impacting policies on the campus and even the federal levels. RUSA's work was crucial this year in securing parking pass privileges to student organizations and increasing library hours for all students. On the state level, members of RUSA has worked tirelessly to enhance the student body's voice within the New Brunswick city government and lobby in Trenton to ensure that sons and daughters of illegal immigrants who are born in New Jersey would have the opportunity to attend their state institution of higher education. On the federal level, RUSA's work resulted in New Jersey's senators writing a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, expressing their disagreement with a discriminatory ban on blood donations by gay men. More recently, its resolution in support of Teach for America helped convince Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., to oppose any cuts to the budget of Teach for America, which has recruited many Scarlet Knights to become leaders in the movement to close the racial-educational achievement gap.

Having been an active member of RUSA for two years, having seen the great strides it has made and realizing the even greater potential that it may have should strong leaders come to fill its ranks, I realize that it is more crucial than ever to recruit the University's best and brightest student leaders to participate in the governance of our campus. That is why I have decided to serve as the chief organizer of RUSA's election this year. I have made it my intention to work tirelessly to ensure that University undergraduates in New Brunswick have the most accessible, the most fair, and above all, the most engaging and fun election for its student governing association in University history.

Yesterday marked the launch of the RUSA Committee on Elections' Web site. It can be found at http://rusaelections.webs.com. Here, you will be able to find the elections guidelines, which will govern this year's elections, as well as the timeline that this election will follow. Although these guidelines are still subject to approval by RUSA, and may experience minor revisions up until this upcoming Thursday, you may want to save a few important dates now: The elections information session will be held on April 19 at 7 p.m. in Room 410 of the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus. All students who are interested in running for a position within RUSA are required to come to this session to be eligible for a seat within RUSA. After the info session, all candidates will begin active campaigning on all campus.

The University's first-ever student body presidential debate will be held on April 26 at 7 p.m. in the Eagleton Institute of Politics. It is open to all, but for those who cannot make it, live coverage will be accessible on RU-tv and WRSU. It will also be covered by The Daily Targum.

The University's first-ever election day will occur on April 28. Students will have the opportunity to vote online at any computer, and polling locations will be accessible to all students in every campus center.

Given the many forces that are affecting our state University — especially in the area of funding from our state government in Trenton — it is absolutely essential that all students make it a point to participate in this year's RUSA elections either by running for office or by voting. Unless we get the most organized, enthusiastic and driven candidates to serve as leaders of our undergraduate student body, we will continue to face unsustainable losses in the realms of state funding, campus services and academic opportunities.

Please feel free to visit http://rusaelections.webs.com to stay up to date with news on the upcoming election for your student government!

Ben West is a Rutgers College senior majoring in political science and the chairman of RUSA's Committee on Elections. He can be reached rusaelections _-at- _gmail.com.


Ben West

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