The Student Association constitution proclaims that every GW student is a member of the SA. Yet the constitution is made of words – words that do not compare to the actions thousands of students take through their membership in at least one of the nearly 250 student organizations on campus. Perhaps SA membership is somewhat meaningful to its approximately 100 office holders. But its significance for the other 24,000 students here is highly suspect.
One of the most often-employed clich?s around the fourth floor of the Marvin Center is the concept of “reaching out” to students. If as SA officials, this is our goal, then we must realize that the best way to achieve our goal is through student organizations themselves.
It seems we would rather simply throw money at them. As any student group president or treasurer knows, the SA Senate has a financial allocations process that would make Rube Goldberg proud. Yet for some senators, this convoluted doling out of cash is a substitute for advocacy of organizations’ concerns.
Appeasement is easier than involvement.
What happens when the SA must establish a relationship with groups whose pocketbooks they cannot control? Perhaps I should ask one of the new members of the Greek Affairs Committee. With minimal – if any – influence over the budgets of fraternities and sororities, it seems that certain individuals would rather usurp the rights and responsibilities of Greek-letter organizations’ governing bodies than establish a working relationship with them.
Our efforts to “monitor” student organizations are misguided at best and destructively divisive at worst. Greek-letter organizations do have the right to govern themselves. So do other student groups. All registered organizations have constitutions and certain standards of conduct their members are expected to adhere to – the rights of responsibility and accountability are not solely for participants in the Greek-letter system.
The SA must respect these rights. Listen to student group leaders. Ensure that all organizations are able to express themselves freely, with no financial or procedural limitations. Streamline the allocations process. Now is not the right time; the time is long overdue.
-The writer is SA vice president of student activities.