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The Daily Tar Heel

Madame Speaker: New Speaker of Student Congress Deanna Santoro has solid plans to improve transparency, efficiency

Micromanaging is the last thing that the new speaker of Student Congress, Deanna Santoro, says she wants to do.

But if past performance is any kind of measure, she may have to put on the pressure to produce results.

One thing Santoro has going for her is some solid ideas for improving Congress in the 92nd session.

The budget process is one of Congress’ most important functions. In the past, it has been nightmarish. Santoro fondly referred to it as “hell weekend.”

Santoro suggested a new system where organizations could self-identify as a group. Congress would then hold separate budget orientations tailored to each group’s needs.

During appropriations, organizations would be funded with the rest of their group, so each group’s organizations could see what other organizations like them were receiving.

It sounds like a productive solution to increase transparency and smooth out the funding process.

She also recognizes the need for election reform, suggesting that districts could be redrawn or changed entirely so that there is better representation.

The current process can certainly be improved upon. Santoro should make outlining more specific reform a key priority.

Her initial stance seems to be one of inclusivity. Santoro clearly wants Congress to be an inviting organization.

“I think this year its going to be a much more enjoyable experience for everyone,” she said.

She said she wants to foster an environment where committee chairmen feel that they could take the initiative on pursing change rather than being controlled.

“I see myself as a facilitator and a resource,” she said.

We certainly hope that the 92nd Congress brings fresh zeal to enacting some of the reforms that Santoro readily recognizes the need for.

But if they don’t, Santoro should be ready to take a more direct role. To her credit, she said she wasn’t afraid to confront chairmen or Congress as a whole.

Santoro already has strong ideas. Her greatest challenge might actually be finding the right mix of carrots and sticks so that solid ideas become real changes in the 92nd session.

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