Transparency via blogPublished: April 18, 2008
As the winners of our most recent Student Union elections get settled in to their new positions, it is necessary to take a few things into consideration.
In an election filled with catch words like “open dialogue”, “representing my constituents” and “transparency”, it only makes sense for both the winners and the candidates to do something that I haven’t seen in quite some time: start a blog. It’s not that hard, everybody is doing it.
Starting a blog would be a step in the right direction for our elected officials. As it stands, the only real connection the average person has to an elected official is the weekly Student Union announcements, which are long, and may or may not be read, and the Union project reports. These are impersonal ways of explaining a Union member’s progress, allow for little interaction back and forth, and just simply don’t allow the kinds of things that a blog is capable of doing.
Facebook groups might be an effective tool to get elected or for a certain cause, but once an election, event or cause is over, they aren’t something that is checked often or updated. In fact, I am still in groups from Student Union elections from several years ago.
Anyhow, it would seem in the best interests of the official and his or her elected representatives to have this increased interaction. The possibilities are endless, and are completely free of charge. Just think of an elected official who had a page detailing the day to day activities for his or her constituents, photos, audio clips, videos, the ability for comments, and the ability to make suggestions. A blog could even include polls, links to relevant articles and also a simple way of getting the word out on various issues.
Finally, a blog or journal would serve as a good way of showing students what is ongoing, and were they to attempt to be re-elected or hired for a real job, they would have a tangible site that wasn’t made in a night specifically for the election. Perhaps these blogs could even accompany the now useless “elect me” sites of the candidates who did win. And for those candidates running, it is a way to show the things they have done.
The whole idea is to be more open about what is going on in our Student Union. Our recently elected President, Jason Gray ’10, has started a variation of this idea with itsmystudentunion.com, where students can submit messages to their elected officials, but the blog interface is absent. I would encourage Gray and the other elected officials to create a blog of their own, either as part of a larger Student Union network or as their own separate entity.
If our elected officials truly want to make the community more open and transparent, this is the way to go. Pretty looking websites and promises of open dialogue can extend past being elected.