Tyler Brklacich : Letter to the editor

Now that elections are over and the dust is settling of excitement, disappointment, and most notably, the

campaign publicity is nowhere to be seen – we look to the future. I congratulate Team ONE for being elected

UVUSA Executive Council for the 2015-2016 school year and give my empathy to Team UP for putting up a good

fight. Elections are not easy and I commend both teams for the courage to face nearly 30,000 students and ask

for a vote.

Elections also bring a time of opinions, debate, and at times contention — and this year was no different. In the

words of Joey Whitaker in a letter to the editor dated March 2, 2015 concerning inclusive leadership, “I am

disappointed….” As Elections Chair, I was able to see an aerial view of all teams, supporters, and outsiders

coming together to support, inquire, and what seemed to be most common: tearing others down.

Mr. Whitaker courageously brought attention to the actions of specific student leaders at the UVUSA debate on

February 24. Immediately following a student’s tweet concerning the support of Team UP for their diversity of

candidates, five students associated with student organizations began tweeting back as to why this individual

was wrong, creating a back and forth tweet-attack, with a final tweet stating, “you can’t argue with stupid”.

To the shock of several in attendance, this behavior was not left to just social media attacks. During the debate

Teresa Wilson, candidate for VP of Academic Senate for Team UP, spoke of helping an individual who was of

low-income and unable to afford housing and because of this was currently living with her. A group of student

leaders began to whisper, snicker, and mock the fact that she was crying, leaving the bystanders sitting in front

of them stunned.

Unfortunately what the letter to the editor innocently omitted was clarification of who was specifically being

called out. The student association encompasses the entirety of UVU’s student body and in short, calling out all

student leaders. I do not want there to be a misinterpretation that this letter to the editor was targeting UVUSA

or the leaders, rather it was directed at student body leaders as a whole.

Furthermore, I became even more disheartened by the way campaigns were being run as they focused on the

mistakes and downfalls of the current and past student governments. Rather than stating the laundry list of

success that UVUSA has been able to accomplish this past year, teams and supporters chose to create a delusion

of failure, lack of transparency, and with no diligence to student success. In a way, I resent that. I resent that the

road to your success is paved by tearing others down, yet claiming their accomplishments as your own. The

elections turned into what has not been done rather than what their team could accomplish for the student

body – implicitly showing a lack of professionalism and readiness for the positions at hand.

In the same edition of the school’s newspaper, from a member of the UVU Review I read, “The problem is

there’s never any new blood in UVUSA…Successors, like those who came before them, with a limited

worldview.” To this statement: Isn’t this exactly how you were selected into your position as well as all those

previous before you? By being involved within the organization and working your way up from a volunteer, to a

position, and then finally to the position you hold now. I must only assume if this is the case that you too share

the same limited world view that you state UVUSA holds.

Each year, UVUSA leadership is a target for two weeks of complaints and “what do you even do?” As a council

that is made up of nearly two-thirds of new UVUSA Council members, I stand by RISE and the 2014-2015 UVUSA

Council. I applaud them for the work and 11,000-plus hours they have dedicated to the success of the

organization and student body to date. I congratulate their efforts to be more inclusive with involving 88-plus

student volunteers and creating/executing over 67 events involving 18,000-plus students from the beginning of

August. I am proud of them that they are not a part of exclusivity as they focused on involving more students

than ever before.

To answer the age old question, “what does student government even do?” below is a list of just a few things

that RISE has accomplished:

– Was elected with the largest voter turnout in UVU’s history with 15.6 percent of the student body voting

for RISE

– The first ever online student feedback system, Student Voice, which allowed UVUSA to more actively

and easily seek out the concerns of the student population

– Hosted four academic speakers including Kyle Beckerman, Kweku Mandela, and Elizabeth Smart with

over 6,000 students, faculty, and community in attendance throughout the semester

– Largest Club Rush events in UVUSA history with over 3,000 students participating each semester

– Bringing the inaugural TEDxUVU to campus on April 1

– Led a campaign advocating for lower tuition to the Utah State Legislature, having our written resolution

read on both the House & Senate floor

– Led a sexual assault prevention and awareness campaign, in conjunction with the Dean of Students

office, creating awareness, resources, and education across campus

– Advocated and received seven full scholarships for the Service Student Council

– Implemented summer programming to better serve our student population for upcoming years

– Received approval and funding for 50 new open lab computers in the library

– Nominated Mitt Romney as the Commencement speaker to the Board of Trustees

– For the first time ever, published online a breakdown of student fees in order to be more transparent

with where student fees are being allocated. http://www.uvu.edu/uvusa/docs/student_fee_info.pdf

– For the first time in UVU history, reduced student fees by a total of $10 for the next academic year

Am I to say that there are no problems with student government? Absolutely not. There is always improvement

to be made and that is the purpose of UVUSA and student organizations – to continue to build the organization

and most importantly other students. More so, issues that were seen during this election are not a reflection of

a lack of work or effort, but rather a lack of understanding and communication to and from student leaders and

the general student body.

When will we as a society come to learn that we are all humans, walking through life with stories that no one

can fully understand except the one carrying the weight of the pain. Have we not learned through our traumatic

experiences in junior high and high school that the one thing we all desire for is acceptance and friendship? I

believe it is our own insecurities and self-hatred that makes us resort to a new-aged form of bullying through

belittling, excluding, and pinpointing every little flaw that an individual may have – and we do it with a smile on

our face.

This past week was hard and for all the wrong reasons. I am supposed to be sad that my year is coming to an

end, that I have two months left before I leave UVU and that I must start beginning to say my “see you laters”.

However, I am sad to see what these past two weeks have done to students across all areas of the university.

This is Utah Valley University, one of, if not the best University in the state of Utah and we have a great

responsibility to represent the good of this institution.

I encourage as the new student leaders go forth with their responsibilities that they take into consideration of

appreciation of the efforts and hard work put before them. This organization and university was not built in a

day or a year, nor by just one person or set of people. This is a collaboration of success that should be celebrated

proudly. I am proud to be a Wolverine and always will be.

Sincerely,

Tyler Brklacich

Student Body President

[email protected]

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