We need a student government that works

Saeed Hussain

The biggest success by the restruc- turing of Campus Council (CC) and the Student Government Association SGA) will perhaps be an end to the question, “What’s the difference?” One would suppose that an ideal system of governance would be one that makes it easy to understand, and not one that you need a 10 minute explanation for. This creation of a new body, I believe, has the potential to make student government at Wooster a truly dynamic set of representation that can better serve the needs of our community.

Working for the Voice for two years and having interviewed several students and administrators across a range of topics, I can confidently say that the campus community at large has very little knowledge about the two separate systems. Student governance at Wooster has in recent times failed to capture the imagination of the larger student body, and the convolutions of the two systems is perhaps one of the biggest reasons. Just this year, CC has seen its highest turnover rate (five out of the original nine representatives elected have resigned) since I started at Wooster. This is not to disparage the work that both bodies have done, but if student interest is so negligible, it Is perhaps time to shake the structure as a whole. The banality of the two different systems does not need much explanation. SGA is an advocacy group, yet what beyond that? In our small and closely-knit campus, one could directly write emails to Sarah Bolton and any of the Deans. CC meanwhile, with a substantially fewer number of student representatives, has made decisions regarding chartering and budgets for student organizations. Once again, having covered student government for the Voice, I have often- times found that SGA and CC could be on completely different pages on what student governance in Wooster should be doing, sometimes with representatives from one group harbor- ing resentment for the other. CC is often seen as the “better” group of representatives, diminishing the work of SGA senators. The difference has seemed rather pointless, and ultimately self-defeating. If I were a stranger to Wooster’s student government reading the article last week about the restructuring, I would really question why it hadn’t happened before.

Having attended the panel discussion about the restructuring, I wanted to reserve some space for the questions that were being asked. The panel was asked about diversity in the panel, the pace at which the restructuring was taking place and if they had talked to the student body about it. I was surprised when one member of the crowd (who has recently resigned from CC) asked about the lack of diversity. To my knowledge, conversations about the restructuring had been ongoing since October, and I would be completely dumbfounded if the former representative had not been a part of any CC or SGA conversations when this was being discussed. At the panel itself most queries were by students currently in CC and SGA, which begs the question, why were these questions and concerns not raised during CC and SGA meetings?

I also did not find the arguments about the pace of the restructuring to be persuasive. As I said previously, conversations about it had been taking place since October, which to me seems to be ample time for deliberations. If the restructuring is stalled until next year, one could construe that CC and SGA members will find little reason to start new projects once August begins. A restructuring with a robust constitution this semester will lay down the necessary impetus needed for plans in the future.

To me, this change is necessary, and long overdue. The confusion created by having two separate bodies is detrimental to student governance at the College. Let’s not keep trying to make a convoluted system work, but rather design our own, which can have the most effective impact.

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