Choose Ravji for student senate president

The average student may not know it, but the president of the Illinois Student Senate, colloquially known as the student body president, is not actually elected by students. True, elections were held several weeks ago, but it is only the winners of those senate seats that may vote for this position.

In an ideal world, ISS constituents, the students who did the voting in the first place, would be in contact with their representatives and offer an opinion about who should be president. For the world in which we live though, this internal election is really based on jockeying between ISS members.

This week, The Daily Illini sat down with Frank Calabrese, Jaclyn O’Day and Zenobia Ravji, the three candidates running for the position. After speaking with all three, a few common themes emerged. Most important was the belief that student government needs to be more effective. But obviously, that’s a problem with no clear solution.

After one of the more extensive discussions we’ve had lately, we believe that Ravji brings the most effective balance of passion and skill to the position that is needed to restore the relevance of student government.

While the other two candidates have the potential to do well should they win, we think Ravji can, for lack of a better phrase, shake things up a bit.

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Although her political views may have earned her the reputation of being polarizing, we don’t necessarily believe that should disqualify her, especially because the position (and for that matter, ISS) should not operate on a red and blue divide.

In truth, ISS does little that can be considered partisan. Most of its work is student oriented. The rub is cliques that impede progress and compromise – liberal or conservative, Greek or non, graduate and undergraduate … the list goes on. However, those with strong principles like Ravji have a duty to channel their energy into reforming the system as a whole, rather than pursuing personal and political agendas.

We think that the key for ISS in the next year is to ensure that more students are brought back into the process. The two most important parts of that goal are restoring the effectiveness of all committees and re-establishing a strong, positive and professional relationship with administrators.

Tonight, Illinois Student Senators will vote, and we believe that Ravji offers the strongest potential for meaningful change. It’s not a magical solution to what ails ISS, but whoever wins has to take the next step forward.

Otherwise, student government may be doomed to sink further into the muck of apathy, argument and irrelevance.