Amanda is the Vice President of her school’s Associated Student Government. As a part of her position, she appoints students to various university committees. One of the most important positions she appoints is the undergraduate chair on the Student Affairs Committee, which makes decisions on all policies that affect student life at the university. Last year, the student who sat on the committee performed poorly, missing meetings and failing to provide student input. The experience damaged student government’s reputation with the administration, making it more difficult for student leaders to work with university administrators. More importantly, this also lead to several important policy decisions that lacked student perspectives, causing turmoil and frustration among the student body. One decision in particular prohibited off campus student groups from utilizing university spaces, and created a bitter divide between student government and off -campus student communities, with tension continuing into the current year.
Amanda not only aims to rectify the problems of the past, but also hopes the appointment can aid in the implementation of her election platform. In response to the division of the previous year, Amanda and her running mate promised to reach out to, speak for, and work with a broader portion of the campus, in an effort to make student government more representative of its student body.
The first candidate, Mark, already holds in a minor event-planning role on Associated Student Government. On student government, he is dependable, professional, and accountable, and the references on his application speak of his valuable leadership experiences, despite the fact that he is not heavily involved at the university. Amanda feels that he can be trusted to take the committee seriously; however, he has a similar mindset to other student government leaders who hold positions on the committee and may offer a similar perspective. Amanda has noticed that many members of student government have similar work styles, personalities, and values, and wonders if Mark will simply provide more of the same perspective.
The second candidate, Marissa, is a member of Greek life and several clubs at the University relating to sustainability and diversity issues. She is passionate, excited to get involved, and has participated in many events on campus, but has less leadership experience than Mark. Her application indicates to you that she is competent, creative, and hard working, but she may sometimes struggle with timeliness and professionalism. In light of the past representative’s flakiness, Amanda worries about establishing an excellent relationship with administration, which would greatly assist in the implementation of student government initiatives, and knows dependability is key to achieving that end. Yet, unlike Mark, Marissa has the potential to provide much broader insight into student life and better represent the student body’s interests, an equally important consideration.
Which candidate would you select for the position? What qualifications do you take into account to make that decision? What risks might you take in selecting either candidate? How do you weigh the goals of representative government compared to that of efficient, accountable government?