Monday, February 14, 2011

Student Government or Start a School?

Someone has to plan parties. Otherwise they either wouldn't happen or would be very poorly organized. So there is a place for student government in college, but it should be renamed to reflect that limitation.

High school is all about being popular, so it makes sense that student government there would be structured around popular kids maintaining their popularity monopoly. It just doesn't translate to the college level.

College is a great equalizer. It's a time to regress to the mean. Ultra popular kids will find they really aren't that much more special than everyone else (big fish in little pond becomes little fish in big pond). Shy kids will break out of their shell. All that is really needed at this point is someone to throw a few big university-wide parties and several small department-sized parties to bring everyone together.

A recent article in the paper at USU regarding approval ratings of various facets of student government there focuses mainly on the fact that approval ratings are up, because they put on some great concerts this year. That's as it should be.

Just a couple months ago, there was another article about how student government was restructuring compensation for their officers, since as of halfway through the school year, they had put themselves $80,000 in the hole. I'm okay with someone who's bad at math putting on a big party, because the worst they're likely to do is go over budget by a few thousand dollars or run out of ice cream halfway through the party. The problem is when they start stepping out of their party zone to push for new buildings or try to influence academic programs, both of which they've also been doing over the past couple years. Major capital investments and toying with academics are just something they shouldn't be allowed to play with.

I'm not saying that there are no students that could contribute in a meaningful way to the university community or even do awesome things around the world. There are many who can and do. The people who will do these amazing things, however, are not likely to run for office, since they recognize its party-planner role. My dad was Business Senator about 40 years ago, so no offense, Padre, if you're reading this; maybe leave a comment if things were much different back then than they are now. From my own experience about 10 years ago as VP of one of the chapters of ACM on campus, we did get decent turnout to some great educational sessions on a variety of topics, but the billiards and pizza party at the end of the year got a lot bigger turnout than the demos on Flash or ASP.

To drive the point home, check out this video by current president Tyler Tolson, encouraging students to run for office. His point is basically that you get paid to eat dinner with university administrators and students follow you around campus (unless their shoe comes off like the dude on the far left at 1:01).

Compare that to Casey Allred, also an undergraduate student, who has created a non-profit organization, Effect International, and built a school in India with more on the way.

What do you do in your spare time? Throw a party? Rid the world of illiteracy? Choose what works for you, but be honest about it.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Oh yeah you know i love this.

The most ironic thing about ASUSU is they think they have power. The only way they get anything done academically is with faculty support, and if the faculty doesn't see any benefit to themselves, then they obviously wouldn't support ASUSU.