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Sunday, April 14, 2024 — Houston, TX

Tobey, Hanszen College senator, cites budget and efficiency as mission for SA presidency

Francesca Nemati / Thresher

By Maria Morkas     2/13/24 11:08pm

Trevor Tobey, wrapping up his term as Hanszen College senator, is running for Student Association president. Studying economics and sports management, Tobey, a sophomore, has previously served as a Hanszen new student representative. 

With a $400,000 budget and leverage with administration, Tobey said that SA leaders have the capacity to make a difference in the lives of students — something they’re not currently doing, Tobey said.

“I want to see the Student Association be an effective organization that’s legitimate on campus, that connects with students and works for them,” Tobey said. “I think that we’re not an efficient organization; we just create a bunch of committees, [and] we pass useless resolutions and statements that have no material impact on students.”

“If we have that robust dialogue, if we have that fair budget and then if we have an organization that has a leader who’s willing to just go get things done, to streamline processes and have persistence when negotiating with administration, I think we can do a lot of good for students,” Tobey continued.

Tobey said he would like to implement an opt-in process to order copies of the Campanile, the university yearbook, and have it delivered at graduation for those who ordered one. According to his campaign website, the SA allocates nearly $100,000 of Blanket Tax funding to yearbooks, which are “consistently unused by students” and consequently “rob initiatives such as cultural events and service opportunities of the necessary funding.”

Furthermore, he said he wanted to see the administration use its conference budget to fund Blanket Tax Organizations’ travel-related costs. Tobey said that Blanket Tax money should be reinvested into student projects.

Tobey also said that he’d like to reform the Initiative Fund, a fund allocated to provide for “new and innovative projects” that are relevant to the community, to help fund affinity and cultural group initiatives.

“Right now [with] the Initiative Fund, you can only [host] first-time events, which I think is very limiting for organizations who are doing great things for our campus, but we’re not funding them,” Tobey said.

Tobey said that the SA passes many resolutions and statements that “aren’t actually helping students.” Instead, he said the SA would benefit from a leader who just gets it done.

“I think we use [resolutions and statements] way too much to virtue signal, and to tell students that we’re doing things, when we’re really not even making an impact in their lives,” Tobey said. “If you ask the average student, I think they would have a hard time answering ‘What has the Student Association done to make your time on campus better?’ I think that’s problematic. To address that, that starts with working with clubs and other organizations … because they have mission focus goals and projects that they’re working on.” 

For the past year, Tobey has been working on the internal and governance affairs committee, which has inspired his priorities. As president, he said he wants to improve the budget, run a more efficient organization, cut and restructure committees, have inclusive engagement and add a public comment section.

According to his campaign website, Tobey wants to help students affordably explore Houston by expanding student discounts across the city. Furthermore, he wants to institute $10 printing credits to allow students to print free of charge on-campus, without a tuition increase.

“[In terms of external projects], I think [mental health] is a number one priority,” Tobey said. “The second thing is expanding late-night food options; I’d like to see the serveries open later and have some kind of healthy options late at night.”

Tobey said his message to students is that they don’t have to continue down the same path as always.

“The Student Association [is] obviously broken,” Tobey said. “We have the opportunity to fix it right now. That’s going to start with someone bold enough to actually address the organization and its failures, instead of focusing on the external projects alone.”

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