SA comptroller candidate brings right ideas, but DeSalvo has experience
Several weeks ago, Stephen DeSalvo thought he would easily claim a second term as Student Association comptroller.
He soon made a discovery that would alter the course of the previously uncontested election: A challenger named Osarumwense Wisdom Pat-Osagie.
For DeSalvo, Pat-Osagie is not a reasonable choice for a position that entails being the leader of the Finance Board and handling $2.6 million of your student fee. And in several aspects, DeSalvo is right.
Pat-Osagie has never served on the Finance Board and has not spoken with DeSalvo, or previous comptrollers, on the details of the job. This lack of experience not usually exhibited by comptroller candidates is quite damaging to Pat-Osagie’s credibility.
The dealings of the Finance Board go far beyond that of the general assembly, and a thorough understanding of the Board’s operations is critical to carry out one of the most important roles a student leader can obtain here at Syracuse University.
If you meet Pat-Osagie, a junior finance and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises major and SA representative, walking through the halls of Whitman, he will first tell you he is running on the premise of making the Finance Board more connected to student organizations. Then he will tell you to just call him Pat.
Pat-Osagie claims his main motivation to become SA comptroller is that he feels leaders of student organizations do not understand how to properly navigate applying for funding from the student fee and do not feel comfortable approaching DeSalvo. He believes the disconnect between the student body and the Finance Board is the fault of the current Board and comptroller.
He also believes he is the individual to fix this.
DeSalvo sites Pat-Osagie’s role as an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha — one of only four organizations eligible to apply for more than $25,000 from the student fee — as an extremely serious conflict of interest.
But Pat-Osagie could not disagree more, noting the organization has a history of legitimacy allowing for its access to the funds, and therefore does not need a representative on the Finance Board to speak on its behalf.
Instead of his affiliation with the fraternity and other student organizations being problematic, Pat-Osagie said it has given him the point of view and insight the Finance Board lacks when dealing with student organizations.
This is an honorable claim, as it is true Pat-Osagie knows the difficulty many groups face when applying for student-fee funding. He genuinely does want to help more organizations get funded for their events and therefore create a campus even more diverse in its opportunities for all students. If elected, he said he wants to create a specific and separate board for financial advising that would cultivate a cohesive relationship between SA and student organizations.
The rules of applying for funding are tedious. But so are the hours of work the comptroller spends sorting through the many proposals he or she receives. DeSalvo has proven he can handle the demands of the job while also creating legislation to improve the process further, a task he hopes to continue in the future.
Pat-Osagie has identified an issue that should be addressed by the Finance Board, and his advising concept should be carried out next year. But this should be done with Pat-Osagie being a member of the Finance Board, not leading it.
Though Pat-Osagie has the right intentions, DeSalvo has the right qualifications and better understanding necessary to most efficiently serve SU.
Rachael Barillari is a junior political science and Middle Eastern studies major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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