Writer: Daniel Ruppert-Majer, History Major with a European Concentration
A great service to UCR was done on Wednesday, Feb. 15. This service was rendered by ASUCR Elections Director Marcy Kuo in the form of a bill that, if voted to pass by the student body, would eliminate the quarterly requirement of a 2.0 and raise the cumulative GPA requirements for ASUCR representatives from a 2.0 to a 2.5 GPA. While this might not sound like a controversial proposal, the bill received some degree of criticism from senators, while other students questioned its efficacy. When looking at the situation from a broader viewpoint, this bill is a crucial step in the right direction that holds student representatives accountable.
Why should the average student care about the GPA requirement of our ASUCR representatives? Because we pay for them to represent the student body. As their employer, it is crucial that we look for the best and the brightest candidates that will do the most effective job. If our elected representative cannot pay attention in class, how can they pay attention to the student body? We need representatives that are qualified on multiple fronts, not just at winning elections on the back of a meaningless party platform.
At the top of the food chain of mediocrity is our very own on-leave ASUCR President Shafi Karim. Whether or not you supported him, he was elected ASUCR president for the 2016-17 academic school year. Yet he is on a “leave of absence” that is a symbol of lax ASUCR accountability. Karim was placed on automatic leave, but due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) no information has been made public. While this might not be an issue to some, remember that we are his employer and he is collecting quite the sum. The president of ASUCR makes a grand total of $9,900 a year before taxes. If this money is to be coming out of student fees, should we not hold our representatives to a higher standard than a 2.0?
This article would not be necessary unless there was opposition by those who are content to have a senate that is mired in its own averageness. CNAS Senator Beau Young asked, “How would you accommodate for majors that have ridiculously hard classes where most people fail?”
The answer is that our representatives should be held to a higher standard. The hope would be that as some of the prominent faces of UCR, our representatives will be able to succeed in classes where other students fail. If we were to take his question at face value, why should the minimum be a 2.0? By his logic, perhaps it should be a 1.0 or there should be no requirement at all. And while some might argue that it is the “tireless” work on behalf of the student body that is dragging their grades down, I think that there is a very different aspect at play.
I think that if a student representative is unable to maintain even a 2.0 GPA, then that is a sign of the representative biting off more than they can chew and underestimating the amount of time and effort they are willing to devote to their position. At this point they might fall below the GPA requirement or have to go on a leave of absence. This is a breach of trust to the student body; they were elected on the assumption that they knew the responsibilities of the office and were fit to hold it for the academic school year.
This is exactly why it was necessary to pass the bill raising the required GPA to a 2.5. If those prospective students running for office realize that being a representative is no cakewalk, then those unqualified candidates might not even run for office and focus on their studies instead. It is an affront to those students that work hard to maintain their GPA and jobs when those members that are supposed to represent the student body and be the face of UCR are not held to those same high standards. If a representative is squeaking by with a 2.0 GPA he is simply unfit to represent UCR and collect a paycheck from the student body. Because what is ASUCR, a lifelong career? It is clearly not, and that is why we should not have representatives that are unable to balance their GPA and responsibilities. It compromises both the representative and the student body when a member of ASUCR is on a leave of absence. That is why we need a motivated group of students at the helm of government, rather than those that champion their own mediocrity.