Editorial: ASU election fact check

As you may or (probably) may not know, the student government elections opened today.

The voting — conveniently held online from the comfort of your MyASU page — will be open until Wednesday night.

Last year about 3,600 students voted for the Undergraduate Student Government on the Tempe campus — a campus of more than 40,000 undergraduates.

But it’s possible that this year the plethora of brightly colored posters and Facebook invitations have inspired you to actually make the daunting trip to the Internet and select a candidate. (Or maybe you just think it’s funny presidential candidates Brendan Corrigan and Jacob Goulding look like long-lost twins of current USG President Brendan O’Kelly.)

But before you step into the virtual voting booth, there are some things we think you should know about the tempting campaign promises of current candidates.

Fall break and open parking (staples of some candidates’ platforms) may sound appealing, but how realistic — and practical — are they?

If you’re planning on voting for a candidate on the basis of a fall break, note that the academic calendar is set five years in advance. The calendar through May 2015 was set last fall, and sometime this year it will be set for the 2015-2016 academic year, said Katie Paquet, spokeswoman for the Arizona Board of Regents. Basically, this means that current students won’t get to don bathing suits and head down to Mexico in November, unless they flunk a lot more courses than they should. That’s not to say nobody should take up the cause for a fall break — it’s certainly valid — but voters shouldn’t be expecting fall break to get here anytime soon by voting for candidates promising that on their ticket.

Think “open parking” means you get to save $600-plus a year for a parking pass and instead park wherever you’d like? Think again. According to Corrigan’s Web site, his campaign has begun discussions with the director of Parking & Transit Services and would use student fee money to open Structure 4 on Rural Road from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day at no charge to students. The rationale behind this is move that students who are going to the Memorial Union or the Student Recreation Complex will have a “free” place to park.

So what sounds like a proposition to stick it to PTS actually funnels more student money to the department responsible for giving you unreasonable tickets, without providing a better service to students who already drive to campus. Not really as appealing as “open parking” sounds.

Something that you might not expect to see on the ballot is a referendum on Arizona Public Interest Research Group — then again, since the group has effectively plastered the Tempe campus with blue posters, you might be well aware of its presence.

PIRG is asking for student money — they want you to pay a fee to fund their operations.

Now, while PIRG, a public interest group, not a student interest group, certainly pursues some worthwhile issues, the problem is that those issues don’t necessarily serve students.

In 2008, USG redirected $200,000 originally meant for PIRG after concerns arose about the legality of funding an activist group. At its core, PIRG lobbies for special interests, or more specifically, whichever interests strike the group as “public.” It has no loyalty to ASU or its students, and has no right to student money.

As O’Kelly said, that money should remain in the hands of students. We’d agree.

If PIRG wants funding, why not lobby as a nonprofit organization, funded by public donations, rather than asking students to reimburse its staffers for their cell phone calls?

We all know that politics is a messy business, even on campus. Platforms are meant to be flashy, not clear. So before you click, be sure you know what you’re voting for. And if you’re curious for more info, check out our profiles of all the USG candidates online at statepress.com.

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