Update 4/18: The Rhett Offensive has chosen to withdraw from the Student Union elections. A full explanation for their reasons can be found here.
The three slates running for the Boston University Student Union Executive Board could not be any more different. Elections begin on Monday, but campaigning was in full-swing last week. Since then, the groups have made themselves known through posters, business cards, campus marches, and social media.
The slates have different experiences and different approaches to student government. And while some of their positions overlap—they all agree on the necessity for longer hours at Mugar and a more reliable BU Shuttle—they represent very different directions that the Union could take in coming years.
The Rhett Offensive
The Rhett Offensive’s platform is all about community.
“There isn’t a unified culture [at BU]. There is a separate culture between schools,” Unions Presidential candidate Patrick Moriarty (CAS 2013) said at Thursday’s debate. Rhett Offensive would aim to bring all students—athlete or artist, on or off-campus—together into one community.
How, exactly, to bring the community together is another question entirely. BU is a large school, home to many students with many interests.
At the debate, Moriarty highlighted the Off-Campus Council, which started this semester but had already been hugely successful. If elected, their slate plans to expand the off-campus council to allow students who choose to live outside of BU residences to feel like a part of the community. At the debate, Moriarty also discussed the idea of extending BUS service to Packard’s Corner in Allston at night.
One of the Rhett Offensive’s slogans is “Be Found @ BU”. “It’s a slogan that we would develop in a program… to engage Freshmen who can be overwhelmed,” Molly Meehan, (SMG 2013) the slate’s candidate for Treasurer, told the Quad in an interview on Friday. “It’s for the person who thinks ‘I want to go to a giant school in a big city’ and gets here… and signs up for 60 things for Splash, but doesn’t get involved in any of them.”
Another focus of the Rhett Offensive pushed at the debate and emphasized on the website is unity behind athletics. “We want to focus on BU pride,” Moriarty said at the debate. This would involve freer access to games and tailgates for BU students.
An emphasis on sports might alienate some, but Meehan asserted that the events would be open to non-athletes. “Something like a tailgate, even if you’re not a huge hockey fan or basketball fan… it could still be fun to go to a tailgate and hang out with the people in your community,” she said.
The Rhettvolution’s campaign so far has been impressively viral. The black, white, and red posters with an adorable beret-clad terrier can be found all over campus.
The focus of The Rhettvolution is popular reform, and the candidates have emphasized this point by making posters, talking to students and organizing marches.
The outreach seems impressive, considering the members of the Rhettvolution are new to working within the student union. Of the three slates, the Rhettvolution candidates have the least experience working within the Union. But Vice Presidential candidate Michael Bae (COM 2012) does not think that lack of experience will stop them from getting things done.
“They [BuildBU] have six years of experience in student Union, fine, but we have ten years of experience everywhere, across the board.” He and his fellow candidates have held leadership in many student activities around campus.
The slate focuses on art, activism, and a conversation about ideas between students. It also focuses on protest as a means of achieving goals and speaking to the administration. According to presidential candidate Demarius Walker, (CAS 2013) they want to bring people together.
“What we want to spend time on within the student union is strengthening the networks that already exist. And then helping to connect those networks together,” Walker told the Quad in an interview on Friday. “We have a two-step plan. We’ll focus on the small-scale events, the advertising for different student events, the potlucks, the featuring of student art. Basically, things that we can do without the administration to strengthen our connection to the student body… to help when we’re working on the big things, like writing proposals for the 24-hour study spaces.”
But the slate faces some interesting challenges. Their experience is limited. And at Thursday night’s debate, they clashed with student leaders in the audience who asked why they had not been approached by any representatives from the Rhettvolution. But their voter base is strong and vocal, both around campus and on the internet, which might make a difference at voting time.
At Thursday night’s debate and Saturday’s interview with the Quad, Howard Male (SHA/SMG 2012) and Alex Staikos (SMG 2014), the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates for the BuildBU slate emphasized the importance of experience.
The four members of the slate have six years of combined experience working within various departments of the Student Union already. Their website features an impressive roster of accomplishments each member has made within the union in the past. There have been outreach projects and events, and BuildBU candidate for Secretary Sophie Miller (CAS 2014) finally saw to it that the clocks in CAS were fixed.
According to Male, their slate has heard positive feedback on the accomplishments of this year’s Union. “People are asking how we would continue that through the next year and how they see things continuing if we weren’t elected, and whether there would be any continuity at all,” Male said. “And I think the answer is no.”
BuildBU would vigorously continue to fight for 24-hour Mugar during finals period, a more efficient BUS loop, and efficiency within the Union itself through the use of their newly-assembled PR team.
“We found a great PR team, which has really been reaching out to students through those social media outlets, trying to get more feedback… we would want to continue reaching out to the students through social media,” Male said.
According to Staikos and Male, there would be virtually no learning curve for their slate. They could hit the ground running on all of their planned projects and work on projects for the next academic year over the summer. They have experience in getting things done, knowing what works and what doesn’t.
“It’s not really sustainable if you have to try to get people to go to a protest every time you want something done,” Staikos said. “It’s not really effective for every situation.”
So BuildBU has the experience. Now they are working on presence. “[Friday] we handed out 2500 business cards,” Staikos said, “We were a little slow to start. Maybe, but we’ll really pick it up this week once voting period starts.”