Responsibilities await those elected to BYUSA



    “It’s a job that never ends,” said Dallin Anderson about his combined role of student body president and president of the BYU Student Service Association.

    Talking about the BYUSA elections for the upcoming school year, Anderson discussed some of the challenges and attitudes he must face, the responsibilities of the BYUSA president and the importance of voting for candidates with substance.

    Anderson said one of the things he has to face regularly is the lack of awareness and understanding on the part of students surrounding the role of the BYUSA president. “Often, students just don’t know what happens, and don’t see BYUSA as credible,” he said.

    “I feel we have more power than any other student government in the nation because we are heard and appreciated. Our model here at BYU is cooperative, rather than adversarial,” he said. BYUSA fulfills the same student government functions of any school in the nation, but the BYU model “helps us get more accomplished.”

    The BYUSA president is accountable to the students and reports directly to Alton Wade, dean of Student Life, and to President Merrill J. Bateman. Anderson meets weekly with the dean and monthly with President Bateman. “This is extremely helpful,” Anderson said. “They hunger and thirst for what we have to say, they’re respectful of our opinions and they want our input.”

    This is in accordance with the official job description of the BYUSA president: “The president directs the work of the presidency, meets with university administrators in an advisory function as needed and acts as the official student spokesman at the University. The president chairs an advisory board consisting of past student leaders, alumni, faculty and staff, meeting with the board a few times each year to consider current issues and to review the progress of the association.”

    Anderson said he puts in around 45-50 hours a week during Fall and Winter Semesters just to get the bare essentials done, and about 50-60 hours a week during the Spring and Summer terms. “The work never ends, so you just have to prioritize,” he said.

    “It’s frustrating because people think this is just a glorified position and a resume builder, when in reality there are not many perks. It’s lots of hours, hard on the GPA, and you go can into debt because you aren’t working.”

    This year, for the first time, students will be able to vote in the elections at computerized booths on campus. By using the Route Y e-mail system to vote, students will have access to the pictures and platforms of all the candidates before they vote, which can help them make a more educated choice. In previous years, students cast their votes using BYU’s telephone registration system.

    Often, campaigners would go door to door and ask students to vote for a candidate immediately over the phone system with only limited information at hand. The computerized booth voting system should give more credibility to each vote, and help increase the significance of each candidates’ platform, Anderson said.

    “This will encourage voter turnout on campus and will help voters to be more informed” he said.

    Anderson encourages students to vote and to be wise in their choice of candidates. “The process matters to every student here because it will affect your experience.”

    “Please vote for a credible person. Get beyond the cute candidate. There are candidates that have style and no substance and candidates that can make a real difference.”

    All candidates must have some experience with student government before they can get permission to run. According to Anderson, each potential candidate is required to answer to a credentials committee and show they have at least one year of experience in the BYUSA system, or the equivalent. This is to assure candidates will be able to fulfill their responsibilities once elected. “You can’t do a good job without understanding how things work,” he said.

    Yet he also believes it is impossible for candidates to be completely prepared for how things are going to work after they are elected. Once they spend some time fulfilling their responsibilities, the candidates’ ability and desire to fulfill election promises might be altered because they might discover better ways to work with the system.

    “I would prefer that candidates run more on premises rather than on a platform . . . they should say what they stand for, what they believe in principle and what they’ll work towards.”

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