The Campus Times staff endorses juniors Vito Martino and Lance Floto for 2016-2017 Students’ Association (SA) President and Vice President.
After last Wednesday’s debate, we didn’t feel that, in good faith, we could support any of the candidates. Between its various gaffes, mistruths, and vaguaries, the debate was wholly unsatisfying.
But even when Floto—the duo’s lone, veep-seeking representative that night—was “flying solo,” the pair stood out.
Our endorsement of Martino and Floto comes only after meeting with the candidates in the days following the debate, where the pair—with both members, that time—convinced us that they are the best-suited candidates to hold SA Government’s most visible offices.
Martino’s persona—confidence without stiffness, assuredness without artifice—will lend credibility to a government that is, in many ways, severely lacking it.
This doesn’t feel like another notch on Martino’s political bedpost. In fact, it’d be his only one.
Instead of listing points on a resume—which, for him, is extensive, distinguished, and entirely unrelated to SA Government—Martino chose to speak to his personal strengths.
Martino and Floto possess, as a team, a noticeable emotional intelligence. In a time of campus ill ease, they have the requisite empathy and sympathy to not only understand what students want, but to fight for it, as well. It is difficult to imagine Martino, in a situation like the Gale House flood, not reaching out to deans and students.
In this way, Martino mirrors outgoing SA President Grant Dever. What has made Dever such a well-liked and effective leader is his unique ability to speak comfortably and empathetically with anyone. He campaigned on this quality last year, and it’s clear to us that this promise has been fulfilled.
Regardless of whether we should even be searching for the next Dever—which, to some degree, we hoped to find—we believe Martino is the candidate most capable of filling the void Dever will leave, and rising to the challenge of continuing and expanding upon his vision for SA leadership. Martino is well-known and well-liked across multiple campus groups, and should move easily into a role geared toward facilitation and compromise.
Floto’s years of experience on the SA Appropriations Committee—and many of its members’ endorsement of his ticket—speak to his acumen and his character. As a student accountant, an important but relatively unseen role, Floto has experience with a function tantamount to any within SA: allocating money to the various organizations it recognizes. This is a position that requires both prudent judgment and commitment, and his experience here balances his ticket, bringing an edge of student government expertise to a campaign built on Martino’s charisma and leadership.
The SA President needs to be grounded and an empathetic leader. No other candidates convinced us of their abilities in these realms. We can see Martino just as comfortable consoling a student one-on-one as he would be addressing thousands of them and their parents in a speech.
Martino’s and Floto’s candidness with addressing mental health issues was welcomed by our staff and reflective of these traits. That they want to push for a second Joint Collegiate Black Students Summit during the year—and not when students are on break—is another impressive and specific proposal offered by no other hopefuls.
Martino’s and Floto’s advocacy for increasing transparency through a reduction in the number of executive sessions—private committee meetings, whose minutes are unavailable to the student body—is a salient one. While some tout the importance of executive sessions, we believe that students should, generally, be able to know what their government is doing and discussing. There is little to be gained from total privacy, especially where the student government, intended to work for students, is concerned.
The dynamic between SA President and Vice President is crucial to the success of an administration, and Martino and Floto demonstrated theirs well during our interview. Other candidates’ pairings sometimes seemed hastily-conceived and restrictive to their talents.
Martino and Floto are not without flaws. The two were not as specific as we would have liked with some of their plans for race issues on campus, and aren’t very familiar with the intricacies of SA and its new system. They have proposed some programs that, in some form, already exist. But we believe that, if elected, Martino and Floto will put in the necessary effort to understand how SA Government functions.
We also found them, at times, vague, and wished their platform showed even more nuance—which it already possessed, in a few ways, more than the other candidates we spoke to.
It should be noted, however, that the SA Presidency is not the most appropriate office through which to propose change. Change on campus occurs primarily through the legislative branch—many candidates are campaigning on platforms better suited for Senate elections. There is too much emphasis on candidates’ policy proposals, rather than their actual leadership ability..
SA Government resumes aren’t everything, and, while we seek familiarity with SA Government in our candidates, we feel assured that Martino and Floto will work to acquaint themselves with it. It is clear to us that the skills Martino and Floto possess in spades—compassion, respect, amiability, and fairness—are those most crucial to a successful SA President and Vice President.
Martino and Floto stood out to us as the strongest candidates in the field for these executive roles.