EDITORIAL: SGA grapples with identity

The Student Government Association's recent struggles for representation in the Academic Senate can be blamed on the group's own public perception and self image. It is clear by their lack of participation in widely-known public meetings that most SGA members have little sense of political urgency.

SGA representatives have often failed to attend committee meetings within the A-Senate, blaming their truancy on a "lack of communication" with university officials. Rather than seeking out the representation they should so hunger for, SGA passed the buck to the very people missing out on their input.

But the provision of that essential student involvement can't only be put on the students themselves. The faculty ranks of the A-Senate should recognize the importance, being a school, of student participation in these proceedings. Senators can no longer hide behind emails, claiming they are simply too tired of encouraging students to participate.

Instead, the faculty ranks of the A-Senate should work tirelessly to convince the student body to be as involved in university politics as they can. As leaders of this school, they are teachers even after leaving the classroom. An instructor or senator who is too tired to call students to encourage them has given up on teaching all together. Wherever there is an optimistic student who no longer cares, a teacher has failed.

The important thing is not that these meetings go along smoothly, and that everyone gets home at a reasonable time. The meetings are an avenue to foster greater awareness among students, while working alongside their own teachers to create a campus environment with addressing the concerns of all parties involved.

It should be no secret that SGA members should be present at all A-Senate proceedings, as the inner-most decision making at CMU takes place there. These meeting are open to the public, and it would seem students involved in their supposed campus government would happily attend without a special invitation.

As the SGA has earlier this semester wrangled with a lack of funding adjustments for inflation, it is obvious the administration does not take them seriously. Yet the group is idealistically positioned as leaders of our student body.

The SGA needs to define itself as more than another school club, created for a specific segment of the student body. It is the best chance for our students to have a say in CMU's inner-most proceedings, to build a bridge between the very different concerns of students and their mentors.

Is the SGA an RSO based on student interest? Or is it an essential arm of our campus administration? Does it provide a voice for students, or a venue to blissfully experiment with their own academic pursuits?

Before officials at CMU can take the student government seriously, it needs to take itself seriously. Changes to personnel could easily replace the typical apathetic liberal arts student with SGA officials hoping to make a difference here and now.

A-Senate meeting and committee times are widely broadcasted and open to the public. Anyone can be there and get involved, especially students eager to be a part of student government. But they don't shoulder all the responsibility.

A-Senate is one of the most important and meaningful entities on campus. By failing to attend A-Senate meetings and engaging more actively and aggressively with those in power, SGA is not living up to its duties, and might not have a fighting chance.

If the A-Senate cuts even one of the SGA's seats at these proceedings, it can only blame itself.

By allowing student ignorance to thrive at CMU, professors are losing out on an essential part of shared governance. If this apathy is allowed to fester, the student body will be robbed of just one more way to matter.


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