Student government elections have concluded, and next term’s executive officers have been decided. The Mercury sat down with cognitive science sophomore Kruthi Kanduri and public policy sophomore Margaret Moore to discuss SG’s future. (Interviews edited for concision)
President-elect Kruthi Kanduri:
What are your plans for the next academic year?
“I think one thing that Margaret and I are totally excited to focus on- or know that we should be focusing on going forward- number one is the response to full capacity that I mentioned when I was running, but also just care about in general. We talked about the library a lot. We talked about different resources on campus that just aren’t getting the attention that they need. Usually, it’s due to budget cuts, funding and just being understaffed, but a lot of the times, the resources that are understaffed are, for example, the ISSO, or the Counseling Center or the Office of Student Accessibility. These are resources that students use on a regular basis. We want to make sure that we are fully advocating with the student voice, like: ‘Hey, we need to do something about this.’ If there are budget cuts, if they are understaffed, how can we as student government help advocate for that and make sure that administration knows that the student body is requesting these places be priorities when it comes to restoring budgets.”
Why do you think there is a large disillusionment with student government?
“I think a big part of it is entrenched in the culture here, which is a lot harder to change. But, also, I think it is because student government, we do have our limitations. There’s certain things we can’t necessarily do, because we’re not the end. We’re the beginning of the process. I feel like a lot of the student body don’t realize that we’re not the final decisionmakers. We are the people who have to write up that decision, write up that opinion and send it up to the final decisionmakers. So, a lot of times, the more ambitious projects- the things that we want to see done for the student body- aren’t necessarily feasible.
That’s something we’re able to present to the Academic Senate, present into Staff Council. And administration may not necessarily agree, but a lot of the time it’s powerful enough for them to know that the student body cares about these things and wants these things done.
The main disillusionment comes from the fact that people don’t necessarily understand the restrictions. And so , when they do realize our limits, they think that that eliminates all sorts of power we have- but that’s not the case. The power of advocacy is the most important power we have.”
Vice president-elect Margaret Moore:
What are your plans for the next academic year?
“I really want to focus in on student government’s relationship with clubs on campus and student life, and promoting that connection between admin and students to make sure people are more involved on campus- push for school spirit, stuff like that.”
What does that idea of trying to build that relationship look like?
“Something I campaigned on was bringing club leaders in on focus groups, arranging meetings with their relevant department heads- and I stand by that. I think that is something we should take forward into the fall and work on. I had this event last fall, where we brought in the representative from the Student Counseling Center and a bunch of clubs on campus that were focused on mental health- that was in my time as Student Affairs chair- and I was really surprised, in a fairly unpleasant way, to find that they weren’t working together already, that they didn’t have much contact beforehand, when they were really trying to address very similar issues in the student body. And I think that’s a missed opportunity for co-marketing events, for collaborating on things. I want to make those connections early on in the fall with relevant club leaders and their administrative counterpart so that they can work together towards boosting that mission.
I think we need student government representatives to have more of a presence on campus and connection to student life in general. Whether that’s something institutional that we can push forward is to be seen, but I want to go ahead and start now.”
Do you have any final thoughts moving forward?
“You don’t just create a student government. You put in the work to get there. And I think, as a young university, we look at that sometimes and we’re like, ‘oh, we’re never going to get there,’ but I think we can. We just need to work to implement improvements, to listen to the student body and figure out what they need, and most of all, to be willing to put in the long-term effort to work with admin, to work with the student body, to get those changes through. And then we can build something that is the next shining example from UTD. I think that’s attainable. I think it’s hard, but we can get there.”