The Beacon endorses Scott Fisher for SGA president

by Beacon Staff • April 1, 2009

bAt issue:/b Student Government Association elections.

bOur view:/b Fisher has served the whole student body. He deserves a third term.

For years, Emerson's Student Government Association was almost impossibly dysfunctional. It was notoriously out of touch with students, rarely accomplished anything of note and, when it did, usually screwed it up. Its members seemed more concerned with petty internal politics than with representing the student body.

This year, however, we've seen a sea change at SGA and, especially after witnessing the Speech Night shenanigans, we're convinced SGA President bScott Fisher/b is principally responsible for this year's progress. While we disagree on some substantive issues with Fisher, we wholly endorse the seriousness and effectiveness he's brought to SGA, and we urge students to do the same during balloting on April 7 and 8.

Further, we urge students to reject challenger Nick Vargas and his supporters, whose platform, as articulated on Speech Night, portends a return to the cronyism, fecklessness and incompetence of SGAs past.

The change wrought by Fisher has been profound. Where once SGA was impotent, Fisher has implemented an impressive agenda, in spite of Vargas and his naysaying allies. He's proven his commitment to issues important to students: college affordability, gender-neutral housing and disciplinary lenience for drunk students seeking medical help. Vargas has said he agrees with Fisher on all these issues, but disapproves of the president's tactics in getting them passed. Meanwhile, the Student Senate, of which Vargas is vice president, has not produced any legislation this year.

Where once SGA was insular and unresponsive, Fisher has proven to be a deft unifier of Emerson students by tapping the potential of-you guessed it-Facebook. Perhaps the most absurd attack Vargas lobbed at Fisher during Speech Night was over Fisher's use of Facebook to drum up support for initiatives like tuition affordability and gender-neutral housing. Any candidate who does not believe the SGA president should use Facebook to rally students is simply not fit to lead the student government.

While we admire Vargas' spirited challenge to an incumbent, we can abide neither the tenor nor the substance of his central message. He and his cadre of supporters made a farce of Speech Night by clogging the question and answer sessions with calumnious lectures decrying Fisher's leadership style. It's too bad, because if they'd focused more on some of his smart proposals, like cutting red tape at the Financial Advisory Board, we could take his candidacy more seriously.

Unfortunately, Vargas repeatedly pledged loyalty to his fellow Senators and SGA members on Speech Night, but there was less talk of how best to serve Emerson's whole student population. We fear a Vargas presidency would cause a regression to the dark days of SGA, when members were more concerned with playing personal politics. For that reason, we urge students to vote against the only candidate in a tight race who endorsed Vargas at Speech Night. Instead, choose her opponent, bIan Grady/b, for senior-class senator.

We disagree with Fisher on some issues, like his plan for college affordability. Where he pushed for a tuition freeze this year, we believe what occurred was in fact more desirable: a modest tuition hike (3.7 percent) bolstered by a substantial increase to the financial aid pool (12.4 percent). By raising financial aid funding faster than tuition, the administration replicates a progressive tax code that makes wealthier students pay more while easing the burden on poorer Emersonians.

Still, we're convinced that, in an unprecedented third year as president, Fisher would have a strong mandate to act on behalf of the students. For that reason, we encourage voters to choose the only candidate in a close race who endorsed Fisher: bAlissa Blechner/b, for senior-class president.

We urge voters to choose those candidates who showed up to Speech Night over their opponents who let proxies deliver their addresses or blew it off. Choose bJohn Keane/b for marketing communication senator; bMatthew Dorion/b for visual/media arts senator. We decline to endorse in the race for writing, literature and publishing senator, because candidate Doug Paul Case is a former iBeacon/i editor.

Finally, bJacob Barela/b is the better of two worthy choices for vice president because of his proven experience and dedication to student government.

Most of all, we implore Emerson students to vote on April 7 and 8, regardless of whom they choose. The surest way to make SGA work for us is by working to choose the SGA we need.,iBeacon/i Editorial Board