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The trouble with the trouble with NISG

NISG+President%2C+Hunter+Flesch%2C+stands+with+UNI%27s+mascots+at+the+first+Mental+Health+Awareness+week+earlier+this+semester.+Some+students+have+questioned+the+event%27s+success.+Columnist+Friel+wonder+whether+it%27s+fair+to+criticize+event+planning+skills+of+NISG+leaders.
NISG President, Hunter Flesch, stands with UNI's mascots at the first Mental Health Awareness week earlier this semester. Some students have questioned the event's success. Columnist Friel wonder whether it's fair to criticize event planning skills of NISG leaders.

NISG President, Hunter Flesch, stands with UNI's mascots at the first Mental Health Awareness week earlier this semester. Some students have questioned the event's success. Columnist Friel wonder whether it's fair to criticize event planning skills of NISG leaders.

IRIS FRASHER

IRIS FRASHER

NISG President, Hunter Flesch, stands with UNI's mascots at the first Mental Health Awareness week earlier this semester. Some students have questioned the event's success. Columnist Friel wonder whether it's fair to criticize event planning skills of NISG leaders.

AARON FRIEL, Opinion Columnist

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In a few short months, the students will vote for their new student body president and vice president. Almost invariably candidates propose as part of their platform an item about making Northern Iowa Student Government more visible, more accessible and more involved in student life by hosting some major event or running some project.

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week was one such event, and every election year student government also plans “Voterpalooza” to engage students.  Even the ill-fated Bike Share Program, in a sort of limbo, falls under this umbrella of direct activity run by the administration.

These projects have admirable goals. No student wants their government to be out of touch, and the idea of NISG directly working to benefit students directly seems a noble cause.

Yet, every year, there is criticism about the success and efficacy.

The stalled bike share program is a fantastic example, with not much progress or growth of the program under student government’s stewardship in several years. The fundraising portion of Mental Health Awareness Week raised only 700 dollars. That’s not much money for students to use mental health services at UNI, as it only covers the cost of a handful of visits for students in need.

It’s too easy for candidates to look at the problems of yester-year and promise to do better, to point at the trouble with NISG.  Have these projects missed expectations? Certainly, and I expect many students — even I — have criticisms that could be directed at the current administration.

As you students reading this are likely to be the candidates and voters this year, I urge you: stay your desire to blame the students elected and appointed. Don’t look at these problems as evidence of failure of past administrations.

But this is the trouble with the trouble with NISG. We as students don’t vote for candidates based on their event planning experience.

The elected president and vice president of the student body don’t hire based on that skill, either.  Neither the President, the Vice President, nor any cabinet member has as a primary responsibility in the constitution or by-laws of planning major events.

According to a source within NISG, their time would be better spent not doing event planning, leaving it to other organizations to do what they do best. When these events fail to meet their goals, the difficult task is deciding not to point a finger at the people responsible.

I don’t blame the executives, and neither should you. Yes, they did these things because they ran on the promise to do so. The mistake was in the promise, not the action.

I commend Hunter and Avery for fulfilling any campaign promise. They’re being asked to balance that event planning with the more serious, more important work of representing students on dozens of committees, working with legislators, allocating funds for organizations, managing student fees and so on.

That work is more boring, but it’s the more worthy of their time.

There may have been missteps this year, but what I urge the voters and the campaigns to consider those projects with not just “What can we do better?”, but “Is it NISG’s responsibility to do this at all?”

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The trouble with the trouble with NISG