Omar T. Woodard: Government as good as the students

All too often on this page we read politically charged rhetoric about the actions of our government. We read about the Iraq war, a sputtering economy, high gas prices and gay marriage. None of these issues convinces the American public that their government is committed to the same principles and ideals by which they live. We spend so much time arguing over wedge issues, we forget about the important bread-and-butter issues that have real resonance and proven impact. As it is with our real government, so it is with the Student Association.

As I read the Thursday Hatchet piece on the Student Association’s perpetual incapability of serving students (“New year, new names, same old garbage,” Nov. 17, p. 4), I could not help but recall that I was SA president and just one year ago, The Hatchet recognized the Student Association’s “potential for greatness,” and documented our progress well throughout, despite the equally unsympathetic words I often received from their gloom-and-doom editorial board. Perhaps we should elect the Hatchet staff to the SA, and run The Hatchet in their place, since they know all and know best. Nevertheless, it is not The Hatchet’s fault; it is the fault of our elected representatives: the SA president and the SA Senate.

In 2002, I was elected to the SA Senate, and political maneuvering dominated our Senate sessions then. Young and ambitious senators drafted articles of impeachment against popular SA President Phil Robinson, still mired in his own difficulties.

Indeed, history repeats itself. The problem, however, is rarely the president, but the Senate, which routinely focuses on procedural constitutional and bylaw amendments rather than the substantive issues students want to hear.

This year, a few senators attempted to focus on important issues. Perhaps they should encourage their colleagues to do the same. Until then, the Senate, and by extension the Student Association, will remain a disreputable organization. Currently, the Senate’s nefarious hobbies include perpetuating inefficiency (see three-hour-long Senate meetings), drafting articles of impeachment (are you serious?) and debating whether a certain individual has the constitutional expertise to serve on the Student Court (someone shoot me). If that is the Senate you want, you can have it.

I ran a presidential campaign with the slogan “Stop the Apathy.” I knew then, as I know now, that if apathy continued, we would elect lackluster and selfish candidates who did not share our values, our concerns. Indeed, this February we need to elect Senate and presidential candidates as good as the people who are electing them. Issues matter, quality matters. Let it begin here, and let it begin now. Although now that I have written this piece, I wonder if we need a Senate at all.

-The writer, a graduate student, was SA president during the 2004-2005 academic year.

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