University of Maryland Diamondback
April 14, 2003
For SGA president:
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.