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University of Maryland Diamondback

Diamondback Editorial
April 14, 2003

Our View:
For SGA president:
        1-Aaron Kraus
        2-Tim Daly
        3-Nick Gerontianos
        4-Patrick Wu
        5-Ricky Gonzalez

The Change Party's Aaron Kraus is the only presidential candidate capable of injecting potency into an impotent Student Government Association. In most years and on most campuses, Kraus would not be a logical candidate. He boasts of his lack of experience and does not hide his raw emotions. But this SGA is in horrible shape after years of weak-kneed leadership, and Kraus is the man for the job. He's blunt. He's passionate. He's the only one capable of battling with white-haired administrators. He's the only one with enough guts and recklessness to stick up for students when no one else has. Tuition and fees are sky-rocketing and students are footing a disproportionate burden of university cuts. At the same time, services for students are declining. Students are paying more for less. Kraus is best equipped to fight the trend.

Our endorsement of Kraus comes with reservations, but far fewer than we had with past candidates. Kraus is the youngest of the candidates and, as became apparent at a closed-door presidential debate with Diamondback editors, he has some growing up to do. He's arrogant, immature and susceptible to temper tantrums. In arguing with FLASH Party candidate Tim Daly, Kraus lost his control several times and made some rather childish remarks, such as, "Oh yeah, Tim" while rolling his eyes in sarcasm and frustration. But during the debate, every time he got knocked, he collected himself and came back strong. He demonstrated perception, foresight and passion. What he lacks in institutional knowledge he more than compensates with his understanding of one simple truth: No one takes the SGA seriously, and the best way to reverse that is to first strip SGA members of their paychecks funded by student activity fees. With Kraus, what you see is what you get.

FLASH's Daly is a good enough politician to say the right things, but his politics are off base; and though he is seasoned, he has fallen in the pockets of administrators. He believes in a system that time has shown us does not work, and despite working as a Democratic Party fundraiser, ironically, he advocates a de-centralized student government that does not meddle with housing and dining issues. That is the Residence Halls Association's jurisdiction, he says. If the RHA had been effective, students would not be paying $600 in overhead costs - money they will never be able to use for food - for Dining Services on top of restaurant-style prices. This campus is starved of bold student leadership. Because of that, the few real student leaders must be autocratic and centralized in order to be effective.

Like the FLASH Party, TANG talks a lot about internal tinkering but does not see the obvious solutions. Like its presidential candidate Patrick Wu, whose keg fest would have kept him off the ballots if it weren't for sympathetic buddies on the SGA Governance Board, the TANG Party is a joke. The party boasts more current SGA members than the others, and only on this campus is that a drawback. The campaign slogan should be, "If you're content with the status quo, if you think SGA is great, vote TANG!" That said, two TANG candidates are worthy of votes. Vice President of Campus Affairs candidate Drew Vetter is one of the best connected students on this campus and is very bright, and why he chose to run with Wu is a brain-tickler. The one position on SGA that requires experience is vice president of finance, and TANG candidate Ben Shapiro has that. No other candidate for that position does. The other vice presidencies are inconsequential and unimportant.

As for the other two parties: KEG Party candidates are hilarious, but even The Diamondback isn't (yet) convinced the SGA has no potential. The NAKED Party is similar to last year's RIGHT Party, led by Nick Gerontianos, whom we lambasted last spring as a waste of space on the ballot. Considering the ballot is digital, that's pretty harsh. Gerontianos improved himself and his campaign considerably after garnering the least votes of any executive candidate last year, and that deserves some praise. His ideas are similar to those of the Change Party, but Kraus is better equipped for implementing them.

For the first time this year, a runoff is out of the question due to instant-runoff voting. The digital ballot asks students to rank candidates in preference, so we will as well. For president: 1- Aaron Kraus, 2- Tim Daly, 3- Nick Gerontianos, 4- Patrick Wu , 5- Ricky Gonzalez. For vice president of campus affairs: 1- Drew Vetter, 2- William Jones. For vice president of finance, 1- Ben Shapiro, 2- Alden Gross. For every other position, The Diamondback endorses the Change Party. The more support Kraus has inside the SGA, the better his chances of overhauling the organization.


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