If I have my way, by the end of your reading this column, you’ll be using the terms “Campuscrats,” “Progressians” and “Northridgers” as if they were second nature.
Admittedly, the assimilation of these words into casual CSUN terminology will take some time, as I just made them up. But as my Mom always tells me, “never discount the baby steps.”
These terms are the new words I hope the campus begins to use to describe the three most dominant directions that our student leaders can take the Associated Students following an election. In the same way that we have Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, and independents in “real” politics, I want to have a cut-and-dry, one-word description of what has quickly become very different ways of running, or wanting to run, A.S.
OK, so maybe people have grown bored hearing about A.S. elections. This week’s runoff election between A.S. presidential and vice-presidential candidates Zachary Bates/Ana Matijasevic and Chad Charton/Safa Sajadi, like it or not, will help determine how more than $5 million of our money will be spent next year. Maybe I have thought way too much about the differences between these two tickets and the now-defunct Enrique Galan/Peter Gallego ticket from the first round of elections earlier this month.
Maybe it’s because too much emphasis has been placed on these elections that I am thinking there has got to be some easier way to classify what kinda-categories these candidates fall into. Something simpler than ?ber-vague slate names like “Students First” and “United Students of Action.”
This week’s runoff elections are juxtaposed nicely against the reinvigorated student uprising against student fee hikes and CSU budget cuts, led by former A.S. presidential candidate Enrique Galan, members of his former “Students First” slate, and outgoing A.S. Humanities II Senator Selene Salas. Despite the collapse of a planned teach-in in front of the Oviatt Library this past Monday, a student-led multi-CSU bus trip down to the governor’s favorite restaurant in Santa Monica is planned for today so that students can voice their concerns and begin to lobby Sacramento. The issue hasn’t been this under-the-radar hot since last year, when rally-happy Nancy Landa and Oriel Marie Siu were in charge of A.S.
All the while, the four remaining candidates for A.S.’ top posts are busy getting their pictures taken for articles that appeared in yesterday’s issue of the Daily Sundial. Charton and Sajadi clarified their position on the importance of impartial A.S. funding, welcoming concerns from students and handling them as they come, and reinforcing the fact that they do not have a set agenda.
Bates and Matijasevic also gave an interview that solidified their position on a number of things, including their goal of uniting the A.S. Senate in order to be productive, the significance of getting the word out about A.S., and the importance of student clubs and organizations helping one another. I am not criticizing their non-involvement in this week’s kinda-successful events concerning student fee hikes and budget cuts. That isn’t the point.
Students on this campus have different priorities. A lot of students don’t think funding Greek-friendly intramurals should be a high priority for A.S. Others don’t think budget cuts and rising student fees are the biggest problems students are facing. Still, some students worry most about insufficient parking and textbook prices. Others want to know what’s going on with the general education model reform plan. There are student leaders who think A.S. should be just a programming and funding body, and that they should have no political undertones.
The point is that everyone has a different set of priorities. I’m thinking it’s about time we start classifying those people who have similar priorities together with one another. It’s undoubtedly trivial, and kind of stupid, but I think if it catches on, it might help people understand why voting in A.S. elections is so important. (Perhaps what’s most essential to realize here is that sets of priorities do not belong to just one group of students, such as Latinos, the Greeks, or business majors. The priority breakdown at this school is not that simple, and that’s the great thing about CSUN: diversity, even in opinion.)
I would describe what used to be the Galan-led “Students First” slate as a “Progressian” slate. For people with a Progressian slant, the “big fights” are a big priority. Lobbying Sacramento to pay attention to rising student fees; keeping a strict eye on the EOP; creating new mentoring and outreach programs; these are all integral to the Progressian outlook. The Landa/Siu “Education First” ticket from Spring 2003 was similarly Progressian in nature.
Charton and Sajadi are the “Campuscrats.” The priorities here seem to be different from the Progressians. Instead of “the big fights,” the priorities are much more localized, much more reactionary, and have to do with student concerns as they are brought to A.S.’ attention. This is a perfectly reasonable way to run a student government, as well, and reflects a different way of looking at CSUN student life. This year, Campuscrats have ties to the Greeks, and this is sometimes the case, as it was with last year’s Campuscrat slate, led by Tim Belfield and Cara Keith.
Bates and Matijasevic are then the Northridgers. Usually supported by some specific segment of student life outside of A.S., in this case a large amount of students from CSUN’s athletic programs, the Northridgers tend to be the outsiders who are caught looking in. They’ll bring something fresh to the table, for better or for worse, and their campaign will have a lot to do with answering a major concern from the previous year’s A.S. group — in this case, that’s divisions in the Senate.
And so it is, the Spring 2005 elections, thought to be a battle between the Progressians and the Campuscrats, got interesting when the Northridgers made it to the runoff.
Sound silly? Yep. But so does “United Students of Action.” This is a lot clearer.