Editorial: A public service announcement for UConn’s incoming student leaders to serve the public

Photo courtesy of Priyanka and Manny 2019 Facebook page

In a matter of days, a new set of students will assume leadership positions across UConn’s Tier III organizations. To incoming UCTV general manager Sam Huang, UConnPIRG chair Emily O’Hara, SUBOG president Addie Lotito, WHUS general manager Alexandra Urban, USG president Priyanka Thakkar and vice president Manny Chinyumba, Daily Campus editor-in-chief Anna Zarra Aldrich and Nutmeg Publishing editor-in-chief Madison Busick: Congratulations. No, really, this is a tremendous honor. In our April 26 special feature, each of you outlined your goals for your tenure atop your organization.

Your incredible ambition and mindfulness should serve you all well in this regard; after all, such qualities certainly aided your election bids in the first place. We just want to set some more general ground rules as we head into the 2019-20 academic year.

One critical responsibility is to establish strong, healthy connections with UConn administrators and other key influencers. As students, inevitably you will need outside assistance to carry out your respective missions effectively. This entails a number of things. You may, for example, receive guidance from experienced faculty advisors, who will listen to your proposals and make calculated decisions with your best interests at heart. Or you may reach out to other organizations, whether on or off campus, and ask that they attend your event or collaborate with you on a vital initiative. Under the most fortunate circumstances, you may even have the opportunity to garner public endorsements from UConn’s highest-ranking officials. No matter the case, you all must exhibit maturity and professionalism throughout your interactions so that an abundance of respected figures will support your cause.

Each of you should also build coalitions internally. Yes, our Tier III organizations ought to present a united front when appropriate. Already UConn mandates biweekly Triad Leadership meetings, where faculty advisors formally instruct Tier III representatives and offer an open forum for collaborative discussion. Such intersectionality must apply to your day-to-day operations too. Each organization has unique, valuable resources that—when combined with those of its peers—can engender especially effective initiatives. During moments of disarray, it is crucial that you maintain your composure, consider other organizational leaders’ varying perspectives and act accordingly as opposed to being close-minded and resorting to petty conflict. Ultimately each organization has the same overarching objective: To serve students. Therefore, cooperation among Tier III leaders is highly encouraged.

But above all else, you must do right by your constituents. Before you finalize any decision, you should step into our shoes and consider its potential impact on us. If you genuinely believe that you are acting in our best interests as much as possible, then move forward with your initial plan; otherwise, you should weigh other options. We are students not only in the classroom, but also in life. Therefore, we understand that you are bound to make mistakes occasionally. Yet in the event that a given decision confounds your constituency or backfires entirely, you must be receptive to our calls for transparency. Address us immediately: Explain your rationale, and—if necessary—apologize for any lapses in judgment and vow to resolve the issue. Lastly, you should provide accessible mediums through which students can offer constructive feedback—whether positive or negative—on your service. Thus you can satisfy your constituents’ clearly defined desires when feasible.

We’re all counting on you, incoming Tier III leaders. Represent us and yourselves valiantly.