As a current senator-at-large in Student Government Association (SGA), I have had the chance to listen directly to the many conversations about the planned restructuring of Wooster’s student government. Throughout these talks, both in and outside of the scheduled meetings of Campus Council (CC) and SGA, many have talked of a “merger” or “bringing the two groups together.” I suggest, however, that this is not the way we should be framing this conversation. Maybe it is because my Independent Study is about that (kinda), but I have given a lot of thought to the how and why of the frames we use in all conversations, including this one. I want students, particularly those already involved for any amount of time with our representative bodies, to look at this restructuring not as a “merger” of two pre-existing bodies, but rather as the birth of a completely new student government body. After the long and often arduous coexistence between SGA and CC, we have in front of us the opportunity to build something from scratch.
If I am allowed to throw some Italian on the sacred pages of The Wooster Voice, we must move beyond our inherent campanilismo. Campanilismocomes from campanile, the Italian word for bell tower, and it relates to the strong sense of identity and belonging among those who hear the same church bell ring, often creating strong lines of demarcation from their surrounding communities. For this restructuring to be successful, we must abandon our attachment to the experiences of SGA and CC, leaving our sense of pride at the door, ready not to just turn the page but rather to start a whole new book. Sure, we can, should and must learn from our past, but we cannot resist change just for the sake of “this is what we have always done.” Just because something has been done for a long time does not make it inherently good nor the right thing to do.
We hear a lot of talk of “big structural change” in American political discourse, and maybe it is time for the Wooster campus to embrace that wholeheartedly. It will not be an easy road, as it never is when true change is achieved, but little patches for massive problems are not going to get the job done. Sometimes we need utopias to move forward, and that is what our student leaders must look towards now: a better vision for the future of Wooster’s student government. We have the chance to start from scratch and ask our- selves “what is the best possible form of student government to serve and advocate for the needs of generations of future Scots to come?” Let’s not limit ourselves by imposing ultimatums in the name of personal honor; let’s instead take a big step towards actually being able to serve this campus and its wonderful students. Without utopia, we are lost; let’s hope for a better future.