Where in the world is Vito Martino?
And, for that matter, where is Lance Floto?
Martino and Floto, whom the Campus Times endorsed and the student body elected last semester as Students’ Association (SA) president and vice president, have been relatively absent since taking the helm of our student government.
Students probably know about the “Welliora” campaign, spearheaded by Floto, which seeks to raise awareness of mental health issues on campus. They might know about the free tampon initiative, too.
But can they name anything else their president and vice president have done this semester? Can they name anything SA at large has done?
It all comes down to transparency, that oh-so-precious concept touted by us journalists and politicians alike, though often abysmally carried out by the latter.
Case in point: the current administration.
In their campaign platform, Martino and Floto pledged to “improve the transparency and effectiveness of SA, such that student organizations can meaningfully impact UofR students.”
The duo ran as outsiders, seeking to reform an “environment in which students cannot keep members of SA accountable for their actions and decisions.”
Now it seems they’ve not only neglected this promise, but worsened the issue.
There are whispers that SA’s PR team has essentially gone defunct. In a telling move, several SA senators this semester have made their own Facebook pages to update students about their work.
And why shouldn’t they? The Senate’s meeting minutes haven’t been uploaded to SA’s website in over nine months.
The executive branch, which oversees the PR team, is responsible for the site.
Floto told the Campus Times that SA has been busy redesigning its site—an odd move, considering it was revamped just three years ago and doesn’t appear to suffer from any glaring flaws.
It seems Martino and Floto, if they are even this hands-on, have spent more time needlessly polishing the website than actually updating it.
Senate minutes haven’t been posted since February. The last piece of Senate legislation posted is from April. Much of the site’s content is from the previous administration of Grant Dever and Melissa Holloway, who were much more visible on campus than their successors have been in the first half of their term. (Even the “Presidential Platform” tab is still home to Dever’s campaign ideas.)
Indeed, when the Campus Times evaluated Dever and Holloway’s work at around the same time last year, we wrote that “their commitment to truly seeking out the desires of the student body at-large has been particularly noticeable.”
As candidates, Martino and Floto said they’d host an executive blog to keep students updated on “current legislation, meetings with administrators, and all things SA.”
But that, too, is missing, along with the site’s old “SA Blog” tab, which, although also poorly updated, at least provided an outlet for SA to publicize its work.
“By reading the blog, students will not only know what is going on, they will be able to send [us] messages sharing their opinions and concerns,” their platform had said.
Improving transparency on the SA website, though, has been nothing short of a complete failure.
Things are a little better on SA’s official Facebook page, which has been active this semester.
But there, again, Martino and Floto’s government has fallen short.
Since around the time the two took over, fewer than 20 posts have been made on the page. Over the same timeframe last year, there were nearly 70.
Our endorsement of them focused largely on their capacity for emotional leadership—Martino especially—yet we’ve only seen flashes of it, largely through Floto’s commendable mental health awareness efforts. Martino spoke at the “United Against Hate” rally in November, and admirably so, but we expected a more visible presence on campus from someone who wowed us last semester. We’re confident they can improve.
So where are Martino and Floto? They’ve got next semester to show us.