By Max Sass, Editor-in-Chief
Student Government President David Zuniga has been on the job for just two weeks, but has already made it his mission to improve the organization and let the student body know how much he wants to do so.
The Student Government Association (SGA) has gained a reputation, Zuniga feels, as a home for social cliques instead of effective legislating.
"In my opinion, [SGA] had social cliques within it, which impeded its progress," Zuniga said.
Zuniga's predecessor, 2010-2011 SGA President James Well agrees that cliques have existed within SGA.
"There are social cliques," Wells said. "Personally it's something I try to stay away from. Any organization you'll have your cliques."
Wells' Vice President Luke Miedreich agrees that there are cliques, but not that it impedes progress.
"Sometimes our friendship outside of SGA and our friendship inside of SGA gets a little blurry, that line, but social cliques," Miedreich said, "I don't think it impedes anything."
Part of the problem, Zuniga thinks, is the lack of separation in personal and professional obligations.
Zuniga says he has few outside friends within SGA, "because I don't know many of them."
"However, I do want to have healthy, working relationships, because when you have a healthy working relationship, a strong friendship will develop."
Zuniga's Vice President Alex Zelinski is on the same page.
"I mentioned that in Senate once," he said of mixing personal and professional relationships. "I think that was a problem. Especially when legislation came through or people were deciding what side they were voting on."
Zuniga, who was not a member of Senate last year, but instead an Associate Justice on the Judicial Panel, said that Wells and Miedreich's term was effective "in certain ways."
"In my opinion, what they were unable to do was mobilize student government to be a force on campus, so that they could push through initiatives they had," Zuniga said.
Miedreich was with Zuniga. "I agree 100 percent," he said. "Red tape plain and simple. As much as it's Student Government Association, we have to go through this office, that office, up through this chain and up through that chain."
Wells was not willing to comment on Zuniga's statement. When asked to assess his time as president, Wells did say, "There's a lot of things I would have liked to have accomplished that I was unable to. A lot of people told me that I did a good job, but I'm always looking to improve."
Another issue Zuniga had was that, "I've noticed that veteran members of student government react to new ideas from new senators and delegates with a sense of cynicism."
What Zuniga calls cynicism, Miedreich calls experience.
"I feel as a senior and member of SGA for four years now, I know what's feasible for SGA and what's not. In terms of finance, space and support there's just some things they want to do and SGA right now is just not in a position to do what they want to do."