Mike Klesta & Michelle Park

Credit: Beth Rankin

Don’t punish Greeks for their ambition

I’ve had enough.

In my three years as a member of the Greek community, I have heard enough complaining about Greek infiltration of student politics to annoy me for a lifetime. I’ve had it with the criticism the community gets for running and being elected to the Undergraduate Student Senate.

So let me get this off my block-lettered chest.

Fact: Greeks consistently run for senatorial positions.

While, yes, Greek candidates’ levels of competence may be debatable — as is the case with any individual running for elected office — at least we try. Take a look at this year’s candidates. There certainly could be more interest in USS. Without the six or so Greek candidates, several of the senatorial positions would have no candidates, period.

Fact: Greeks have a small, but dependable, voting bloc.

Greeks make up only about 6 percent — or about 1,000 members — of the student body population of Kent State.

Many complain about such a small organization consistently holding seats in USS. Those same people whine and moan because Greeks rally for Greeks and vote for Greeks.

But, I ask this: Where are the other 20,000 students of Kent State? Why does this university community pick on an organization that’s small and works together to make things happen instead of more appropriately pointing its finger at the larger more representative groups on this campus that don’t introduce candidates or don’t build platforms? Turn your finger around and point it at your organizations. Don’t point it at mine.

Fact: A majority of voting Greeks do support Greek candidates.

This is not rocket science. People vote for the candidates they feel will appropriately represent them and their interests. Greeks vote Greek. Democrats vote Democrat. Republicans vote Republican.

I am not condoning blindly voting for candidates because they are Greek, Democrat or Republican. Regardless of how people feel about it, though, a number of voters will support unfamiliar candidates if they know that individual’s party affiliation matches their own.

Greeks do the same on a smaller level. We want to be heard.

Fact: The Greek community is a tough competitor.

We rally together, we vote together and we elect the candidates we believe in.

But we are only 1,000 people. If another organization put the time and the effort into a campaign, our hold on USS seats would not be impermeable.

I’ve heard the comment made that others don’t run because they feel they’ll lose to Greeks. And somehow the blame of this situation is laid on the horrible people of the Greek community — I mean, how dare they turn out, visit the USS Web site and click on their choices? How dare they hurt the chances of other candidates?

Get real. This is essential politics, folks. Do Republicans and Democrats feel guilty for voting in mass blocks because it shuts out third party candidates?

If one wants to be elected to an office, one has to win. Competition can be stiff and can push people to be more original, build stronger platforms and run harder.

If a person wanted to run in this year’s USS election, he or she could have done so just as any of the Greeks did.

Those who didn’t only have themselves to blame.

Michelle Park is a senior newspaper journalism major and the Forum page editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

USS needs variety; go beyond Greek

The Undergraduate Student Senate has become an arm of the Greek community.

Each of the nine Senate positions has a Greek running for it, including executive director. This will be the first time a Greek has held that position in three years. The homogeny is lamentable.

Sure, fraternity and sorority members pride themselves in their desire for leadership positions, but often the skills just aren’t there.

I sat in on every interview for the Stater editorial board endorsements. As can be seen by our endorsements, there were few qualified candidates.

The Greek system provides a voting bloc no other group on campus can compete with. A Greek becomes interested in adding USS to the resumé, sends some petitions around to Greek brothers and sisters and is on the ballot. No questions asked. Greeks vote, and next thing you know, that member is now a part of the Senate.

Fraternities and sororities don’t screen the candidates or look for the most qualified undergraduate. Instead, we get an inbreeding of ideas: Elect a student to City Council; send a lobbyist to Columbus. Greek candidates talk to other Greek candidates, and instead of three unique ideas per candidate, we only get one or two vague proposals.

Senate needs to freshen up.

Of course, the Greek community shouldn’t receive all the blame. Students simply need to get involved. Some of the smaller organizations like BUS and PRIDE!Kent should propose candidates. Political science majors should use the skills learned in class to run a campaign. Make fliers, petition, propose fresh ideas. Though it’ll take more time and effort on the part of the campaigner, it is definitely possible for non-Greeks to get elected to Senate.

Senate has about as much power as any student organization can have. The group is responsible for a $746,100 budget — not a paltry sum. Some of that money is used for the allocations process, where student groups can request funds for big-name speakers like Barbara Bush, Bill O’Reilly and Michael Moore. It doesn’t make sense to have one segment of the college community have the power to work with so much money.

It’s time we get a USS that actually represents undergraduates. A senate of Greek candidates doesn’t. The roughly 1,000 Greek members make up about 6 percent of the undergraduate student body — not at all representative.

Through allocations and policy, Greek senators see the university through Greek glasses. Many members hold their fraternity or sorority above all else in college. Their devotion to their brothers and sisters, though commendable, makes it easy for the Greek community to receive a preference. USS should be as diverse as our undergraduate student body.

Though Go Greek! might work if a student wants to be elected to USS, the Senate is in need of a shakeup. It’s time non-Greeks get going.

Mike Klesta is a senior newspaper journalism major and editor of the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].