Student Makes a Stand for His Department

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Student Makes a Stand for His Department

Physics undergraduate joins student government, becomes an advocate


by Frisco D’Lozano

Law Student, Santa Clara University School of Law, CA

Posters such as this one promoted D’Lozano’s SGA campaign. Image courtesy of Frisco D’Lozano.When I was a junior at the University of Texas at Brownsville, the university decided to reduce classroom allotments for many departments, including physics. I spent a portion of my summer research hours moving our SPS equipment out of a room we could no longer use. After I dropped our Van de Graaff generator and was nearly run down by our centripetal force demo, I realized we needed better representation in the Student Government Association (SGA). We needed an advocate fighting for sufficient lab space.

So I decided at the beginning of my senior year to run for the office of senator representing the college of mathematics, science, and technology.

It was a close election, but I won. Then I was appalled that the first measure we voted on was a pay raise for the executive officers of SGA. I led a coalition of other first-time senators to oppose this measure. “Student funds should be spent on the students, not their elected representatives,” I argued. Though my tendency to filibuster the president’s agenda garnered ill will from the longer-serving executive officers, I gained the respect of my fellow nonincumbent senators and became the senator pro tempore, residing over meetings in the president’s absence.

My signature piece of legislation focused on increasing the space allotment for my college. It passed, becoming the first bill to overcome a presidential veto. It felt good to fulfill my campaign promise. It felt good to demonstrate that physicists can succeed not only in the lab but in policy positions. Future generations of physicists at my school will now have a place to study and, workload permitting, relax.

Politics can get dirty, because the laws of humankind are not as clear-cut as the laws of physics. The president knew she couldn’t continue her agenda with me around, so she ultimately appointed me to the position of chief justice of the SGA court, a prestigious but largely ceremonial position. Nevertheless, I would still give my wholehearted endorsement to any aspiring physicist-politicians out there. Physics needs advocates. The world needs intelligent leaders who can approach problems objectively and rationally, and this is something physicists do well.

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