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Friday, January 21, 2022

‘Boop’ campaign seeks student council reform

Wondering what ‘Boop!’ is? According to freshman Associated Students of Madison candidate Selma Aly, “That’s the reaction we’re hoping to get.”

With ASM elections starting Monday, the latest reform group running for seats on student council is using their attention-grabbing title to promote a platform of student government transparency, engagement and student outreach.

But depending on one’s perspective, Boop’s 23 candidates could be a passionate group of student government reformers or just another party of do-nothing rhetoricians.

In the past five years, groups like MPOWER and others have ridden a wave of frustration to a student council position, campaigning with arguably mixed results on transforming finance committee funding policies or student council’s alleged apathy in solving student issues.

As the latest group of reformers, Boop candidates hope to increase ASM’s accountability to students, increase student involvement and change the student government environment.

“ASM… isn’t supposed to be set up to govern students on campus,” said Aly, a Boop candidate from the College of Engineering. “We want to set up a mechanism to serve students by paying attention to what students are talking about.”

According to Aly, Boop hopes to actively advocate for and engage with the entire campus population through social media, e-mail and by “just making us present in every student’s life.”

“We want to be there as a voice for the students,” Aly said. “I feel that we as students, we have lost some power on campus because ASM has kept themselves separated from the student body.”

Aly said she and the other Boop candidates “want to make that connection strong again.”

But Matt Manes, a former student government representative and finance committee chair, contends that Boop’s platform offers the same “tired old rhetoric” as previous reform groups.

“It’s a kind of mentality that isn’t conducive to solving big issues,” Manes said, adding, “This happens every year.”

In his experience, Manes said groups similar to Boop enter the student government arena bent on reformation, but instead bring “a hardcore purist ideology that prohibits compromise,” ultimately rendering ASM “paralyzed.”

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Aly is more optimistic.

“We don’t want to leave the room without having a decision made,” Aly said. “We have a goal that we want to achieve, and we are willing to put effort and put anything into reaching that goal.”

Elections to fill open seats on student council, Student Services Finance Committee and senior class officer positions begin Monday March 19 and run through March 21.

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