Kernel Editorial Board
When it comes to Student Government elections, the choice is usually between relatively similar candidates, with platforms differing only slightly, if at all when boiled down.
This year is no different in that aspect. Ryan Smith and Michael Haag are both trying to prove their way is the best way to make this campus a better place.
The difference between the two is experience — which is why the Kernel is endorsing Ryan Smith for a second term as SG President.
While the Smith administration isn’t perfect (not that any SG administration ever has been or will be), the things Smith has accomplished in the past year are enough to warrant another year to implement ideas.
The compromise Smith worked out with the city council to bump student housing limits from four unrelated individuals per house to six was a needed breakthrough in a debate threatening to permanently destroy the relationship between students and the city.
His “no” vote on Wildcat Coal Lodge was admirable as well. In the past, many SG presidents have voted in step with the other trustees, even when the majority of students were against whatever the board was supporting (Nick Phelps’ “no” vote on a green free is one notable occasion).
But Smith seemingly has none of the drawbacks his predecessors had. In a position usually more of figurehead than anything else, Smith is following in Tyler Montell’s shoes and getting things accomplished.
Many SG Presidents like to tout insignificant changes or new programs as reasons why they can make this campus better. But smaller initiatives, like book rentals, don’t make a difference. True dead weeks, split finals weeks, exam week parking and housing compromises do.
It’s a shame the other major candidate, Haag, hasn’t had the same opportunities afforded to him to prove his case to lead SG. And hearing more substance about what he wants to do, rather than just being the guy running against Smith, would have been nice.
The bonds Smith boasts with trustees and administration is crucial to SG leadership. Things aren’t changed when a new student comes in every year and wants to shake things up — doing so renders the job ineffective.
But working for change within the system has been proved to be the best for students. With another year at the helm, Smith can accomplish some projects like split Finals Weeks, changing the BOT speaking policy and having a strong partnership with UK Police.
At the same time, if elected, the pressure will double on Smith to get things done. In a job where one year is usually all one gets, Smith would be afforded an extra year. With that comes extra responsibility.
Campaign promises will need to be followed through and results on the serious issues, not how many more students signed up for TallyCats, will need to be delivered.
SG elections are important when you have candidates serious about helping better this campus. With an incumbent running for a second term, it’s easy to stay away from the polls and not worry about what’s going on, but doing so is a disservice to yourself.
No matter who you vote for, make sure to vote in SG elections. After years of questionable use, those who take part in SG are finally trying to make a difference, even if it’s a small one, on this campus.
Everyone else should be too, and it starts with voting Wednesday and Thursday.