Voters should elect student leaders, not event planners
April 5, 2010 —
If you donít know what SVSUís Student Association does, now is a pretty good time to find out. As another winter term draws to an end, the annual SA election is upon us. Every SVSU student will have the opportunity to vote for one presidential candidate and for up to 20 representatives.
As per most elections, itís a good idea to cast an educated vote, but there are reasons why we think the voter turnout for these elections has historically been lower than ratings for The Marriage Ref.
Although SA doles out funds from a roughly $130,000 budget derived from studentsí tuition dollars, the $.60 per credit hour that students pay isnít enough to make many of them keep tabs on how itís spent.
Not everyone is big on attending campus events (unless TLC star Amy Roloff comes to campus, in which case they apparently show up in numbers that flirt with fire code violations). Only a small fraction of our 10,000+ student population files into the Dick Thompson Student Activities Room for any film, Hooters wings or charity drag show. Additionally, we would estimate that a relatively small percentage overall seeks its money back through SA allocations for programs, banquets, conferences, etc.
Itís not surprising to us that the majority of students arenít involving themselves with spending decisions in this aspect. After all, the purpose for these allocations probably rests on the assumption that all 10,000 of us donít desire an all expenses paid trip to a national grammar rodeo in Connecticut this year. Thus, a lot of students wonít vote simply because they donít care how the money is spent.
The risk, however, associated with viewing SA solely as a moneylender is that we start to ignore other important functions of this representative body.
Every SA presidential candidate has probably taken the podium at the official public debate (scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. in the Rhea Miller hall) and proudly declared his or her interest in making sure the studentsí collective voice is heard ó heard by administrators, heard by Kochville Township officials, heard by legislators and the governor in Lansing. To what extent an SA president follows through with these promises is always crucial, perhaps more so than which RSOs get pizza parties.
The SA president has the most access to and the most face time with decision makers around the University and the state. The president is the default choice for the mouthpiece of the students, especially when the press comes a calling. Now, at a time when cuts to higher education are closing doors for so many studentsí futures, we need to elect an SA president who is committed to representing our concerns, even if weíre often too apathetic to announce them until itís too late.
Itís important to elect a Student Association that will do the work we elect it to do in terms of making our concerns known. Ideally, the body will be diverse and representative of the many different groups at SVSU. Unfortunately, though, out of our 10,000, only two are interested in the top position, which doesnít leave the voters with much of a choice, regardless of who the candidates are.
This week is one of the most important to acknowledge SA and its role at this University. We should elect an SA that will take active steps to accurately represent us in addition to fairly and effectively managing its budget.