As the mass of people entered the small conference room located on the fourth floor of Smith Memorial Student Union, the attendees called attention to the need for more chairs, as they gathered and sat in various conglomerations around the U-shaped tables.
Back to the drawing board
As the mass of people entered the small conference room located on the fourth floor of Smith Memorial Student Union, the attendees called attention to the need for more chairs, as they gathered and sat in various conglomerations around the U-shaped tables. The chair’s mallet sounded an order of silence to the otherwise rowdy bunch that comprises the ASPSU Senate.
These people are elected student officials, put in power to represent the student body.
On the agenda today: corresponding with the Elections Board, reviewing Senate bylaws and working out kinks in the coming leadership conference.
Amid all the jargon that one must suffer through hearing at a weekly ASPSU Senate meeting—always open to the public—I found myself surprised at the surplus of rhetoric, misunderstandings and general lack of tact that encompasses our student government.
With last year’s meager election turnout (one of many grave problems ASPSU is facing) it was a disappointment to hear the mass of complaints about a miscommunication regarding a leadership retreat, while ASPSU President Katie Markey’s presentation on proposed education reform was cut short and factually brief. Although the next elections take place between weeks three and five of spring term, some things should be addressed before they accept those resume-building leadership reforms.
First, restructure the Constitution. It is 26 pages long, with scattered and ridiculous expectations such as Article IX, 3.3: “Persons desiring the recall of any officer(s)…must obtain the signatures of not less than 75% of the total number of votes cast for that position in the last Annual Election within a one-month period from the date of initiation…”
How can ASPSU reasonably expect to get an equivalent of three-fourths of the miniscule voting population to sign a petition that 27,000 out of the 28,000 would probably never care to hear about? They must start thinking about their constituency here.
By the way, I believe it’s supposed to be spelled out “of no less than 75 percent,” and not “not less than 75%.”
Vice President Ethan Smith, as quoted by the Vanguard, said, “I believe that the longest serving senator has only been here 18 months. With such a short term, it’s hard to really get a working knowledge of the constitution.” It seems pretty important, if you ask me.
Next, make it easier for the public to give input on the meetings; some of us will even speak for free. It might be important for them to instill confidence into students that their system actually does what its talking heads promise. For example, in a Vanguard article “ASPSU Gears Up For Next Year,” written in June of last year, Markey claims to be working on getting the kinks out of the website in order to keep up-to-date information about ASPSU to students, as well as working to ensure that students have a voice in restructuring.
Six months later, not much has happened. From a student’s perspective, it looks like they aren’t doing much.
Do something new. Use experimental voting methods like standardized bids, remake the constitution and aim for innovation. Because whatever ASPSU is doing now just isn’t working to get people excited. The majority of people don’t take flashy student government campaigns seriously; they didn’t during high school, and still don’t. What the students of PSU are looking for is something remarkable and progressive, such as bike lanes and ZipCars.
ASPSU has much to do. They lobby for student interests in the State Legislature, appropriate money to student groups and have a truly meaningful impact on student rights. ASPSU needs to find a way to make students care, but students need to start caring themselves. ?