Editorial: For student body, Quinney and Eicher the right choice

On April 17, 2012

The University of New Hampshire is at a critical time in its history. Dealing with budget deficits due to massive state funding cuts, UNH is faced with the reality that it has to be one of the most fiscally responsible colleges in the country. Everyone, from the administration, to department heads, to student representatives, has to focus on what is truly essential to the university.

Over the next two days, students have the chance to vote for their next student body president and vice president by registering on the WildcatLink website. After reviewing the candidates and their respective platforms, The New Hampshire is formally endorsing sophomore Tim Quinney and junior Alexandra Eicher for student body president and vice president, respectively. 

Quinney and Eicher are running on a platform based around increasing communication between the student body and the student senate. The senate aims to act as the voice of the student body. Quinney and Eicher are justifiably concerned that there is a disconnect between students and the student senate. 

"In order to empower students, you really need to reach out to them," Quinney said in an interview with the TNH editorial board on Monday night. 

Quinney and Eicher are intent on bridging the gap between students and their representatives by utilizing a number of resources. One is this very newspaper, as Quinney said that the pair would use regular letters to the editors to communicate with the student body. 

The duo also plans to reach out to student organizations because those involved with these groups are engaged and involved in campus affairs. 

Another goal for Quinney and Eicher is to see medical amnesty become an official policy. The program is currently in its pilot stages, and it is being voted on in the student senate's next meeting. The prioritizing of medical amnesty show that Quinney and Eicher recognize how the student senate can reasonably benefit the student body. 

Their opponents, junior Rob Wilson and running mate Dylan Palmer, are running on a platform of sustainability. While he did not respond to interview requests, Wilson detailed his "brightest idea" in an email. In his plan, students could develop an idea to improve sustainability at UNH or in the area, and then donate money to the project. Wilson claims that even if only 10 percent of the student body donates, his plan could raise upwards of $120,000. 

The problem with Wilson's idea is that it overestimates an undergraduate's ability to donate money. The Alumni Association has had enough problems with getting seniors to donate to the senior gift (see today's front page). Cash-strapped students will not be able to donate enough money to Wilson's project to make a difference. And Wilson's claim that 10 percent could raise $120,000 is even more far fetched: each of those students in the 10 percent would have to donate approximately $100. 

Another one of Wilson's plans is to implement plans to either update the Hamel Recreation Center or build an entirely new gym. But as Quinney notes, the rec center is not priority No. 1 when it comes to the buildings on campus. 

"Students would love a new gym," Quinney said, "but we have some critical needs that need to be addressed for academic purposes. [We] can't say it's feasible or not feasible because that depends on funding. But if you look at the campus master plan, it identifies critical buildings that need attention."

Quinney went on to identify buildings such as the Paul Creative Arts Center and Hamilton-Smith Hall, two of the oldest buildings on campus. Both are in need of updates to make them safer and more handicap accessible. 

It is there that Quinney shows a deeper knowledge of issues at UNH and the needs of the students. While Wilson is focused on plans that are either unreasonable or unnecessary, Quinney is concerned with making changes that are feasible. He and Eicher know how to utilize the student senate. 

They are dedicated to giving the student body a strong voice to create change. In a time when budgets are being slashed and students are being taken advantage of through raises in tuition and fees, it is more important than ever that the student body is heard. 

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