Last week, Student Association President Lamar Thorpe proposed what many fed up with student politics have wanted for years – a restructuring of the Student Association. Unfortunately, the SA president’s plan is too little at the wrong time, and it would likely counter his pragmatic efforts to change the group’s culture thus far.
There is no doubt that fundamental problems plague the SA. Squabbling, scandal and a lack of action to benefit students have characterized recent years of student government. The situation has slightly improved this year under Thorpe’s leadership, however, as the president has increased focus on student advocacy and refused to become involved in political bickering.
Thorpe’s proposal to have an executive board oversee the SA’s executive branch and a legislative body divided into three distinct groups is not a radical departure from business as usual. Instead of changing who gets elected – one of the real issues in student government politics – it merely redistributes power within the group. The plan certainly has some bright spots, but on the whole, it isn’t revolutionary.
This plan has already come under fire from many in the SA, and its implementation would likely result in a drawn-out political battle. Ultimately, the benefits from this proposal would not outweigh the cost in political infighting that would waste students’ time and money.
It is admirable that those within the SA recognize that the group has fundamental problems. Thorpe’s proposal, however, runs contrary to his sensible efforts to change the SA thus far. If the president would like to make the most difference as the end of his term nears, he will abandon his plan, focus on transitioning toward the end of the year and continue the practical work he has done so well thus far.