Though we work at The Rebel Yell what seems to be every waking moment, we do try to get out as much as we can.
But when we’re not in the office slaving away into the night to produce a paper, pouring over exciting things like subject-verb agreement and AP style, we are in class or covering higher education board sessions and student government deliberations. It’s our job as journalists to suffer long hours in public meetings, sifting through information and interviewing, but it’s a duty to students that we hold to be sacred.
It’s also the job of the student newspaper, when we see no other alternative and a campus seemingly destined to remain without a strong student voice, to advocate for what we know is right.
Last year, The Rebel Yell refrained from endorsing candidates running for a CSUN position on the executive board. We largely stay neutral when the field of candidates is relatively normal and nobody stands out or is controversial enough to deserve opposition.
This weeks upcoming CSUN executive board primaries feature many candidates, but we feel one stands above the rest as a tireless representative for students, and for that reason they deserve your vote.
We first were introduced to Mark Ciavola as the incoming president of the UNLV College Republicans, and though we disagreed with some of his stances on political issues, there was no denying Ciavola’s natural talent in organizing and mobilizing students for a cause.
Last semester’s CSUN Senate elections saw Ciavola and his Rebels United ticket more or less elected in a landslide. A coalition of active, intelligent young people from diverse academic backgrounds managed to beat many who had been involved in student government for a long time. What it took was hard work, an understanding of the issues and the courage to approach everyday students. At the forefront of that was Ciavola.
Since then, we have seen a senate that has sought to use its resources wisely to represent students and insisted on accountability from groups seeking to use student fees.
Ciavola, though fiscally conservative, supports well-planned student events; if he can’t give his vote to a student group the first time they approach student government, he tries to work with them through CSUN’s committees in order to draft a proposal that can be supported.
To this day, he refuses to accept tuition waivers for representing his constituents in the liberal arts college.
CSUN has a long way to go still, as do many at UNLV that want to enact change, but those small victories would not have been possible without a strong leader determined to achieve a vision.
Behind him, Ciavola has a formidable team. Sarah Farr’s tremendous experience in CSUN and deep knowledge of its procedures would make her a great candidate for VP and Jay Yoon is an eloquent speaker that would do well as the senate chair. Rest assured, they would both be votes well cast.
The other tickets however, leave a lot to be desired.
It’s easy to say on flyers and on posters come election time that you’ll be the best and make the right decisions, but if you don’t already have a consistent record of doing those things in any capacity, you give students no reason to believe you and for good reason.
The truth is that representing students and shouldering the responsibility of that in the face of serious opposition is hard. There is a reason that none of the other candidates in this election have a history of opposing tuition increases, or of even bothering to show up at Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents meetings, even when they are in our own Student Union. Ensuring that all Nevada campuses are treated equally by the state is a dry business that requires a lot of time, patience and energy from our representatives. But that’s their job, and if candidates weren’t trying to do it before, there’s no reason we should believe that they’ll do it now.
The UNLV undergraduate community needs a leader who they can count on to be in the right places at the right times, advocating for the right thing, and Ciavola is the only presidential candidate in the race who already has a record of doing that.
That’s not to say the other candidates can’t someday be good choices for undergraduate student body president. They can. But at this moment they have little or no experience that would prepare them in confronting state legislators that want to starve Nevada’s higher education institutions of the funding they need, or keep in place the policies that favor northern Nevada campuses over southern. If they cared about representing you properly, they would seek to build those skills first.
Because the sad fact is that we live in a time of UNLV’s history when the primary legacy the undergraduate president will leave at our university centers around the hard stances they will choose to take on behalf of students before the State Legislature and the board of regents, not the Rebel Pride Council.
The debate surrounding the Nevada higher education funding formula is for keeps, and the financial future of UNLV hangs in the balance. We can’t afford to elect leaders that don’t understand this, and candidates that don’t even know what the formula is should be dismissed out of hand. This is not a game and there is no time for on-the-job training.
Our endorsement comes not out of any ideological agreement, but through close examination of the reality that we have witnessed through our time as journalists and reporters at UNLV.
As men and women whose lives center around the pursuit of truth, this is what we think. We wouldn’t be writing this if we didn’t truly believe it.
So by all means, examine the record for yourself. Listen to our audio interviews of the candidates online, delve into our archives and research the facts.
That’s what we did.