After some recent events, namely the passing of the Tobacco Ban Resolution, I’m beginning to realize that our student government functions more like a monarchy than anything else.
We have the students, who in this scenario represent the general community and their thoughts. We have the ASI board of senators who, while elected, are those who pass resolutions and pass them along to the president. And we have President Welty, who in this scenario represents the king. His word is final, and what he says goes. What he passes is law and he makes a majority of the decisions for the university.
I have some problems and concerns with how our student government functions at this time.
We as students living in the United States of America, are part of a democratic society, with a system of checks and balances. And while our university does have a limited system of checks and balances, students here on campus have very little say on what goes on behind the scenes. We don’t vote on anything, we merely present our opinions to the ASI board, and they can choose, or choose not to, present those ideas to President Welty.
I bring this up mainly because of the Tobacco Ban Resolution. In an interview I did with Selena Farnesi, she mentioned that until the resolution was passed, not many students spoke up about the idea of us having a smoke-free campus, which leads me to believe any student could bring any concern forward to ASI and it could be made into a law, or rule. I not only don’t like this idea, but it makes me feel that our students, the general community in this case are not taking full advantage of our student government, which they should.
Now, I know students do not have the time to go to every ASI meeting, but I have a solution that would help students become more active in our government on campus.
As I stated before, we are a democratic society. We vote for presidents, we vote for laws, resolutions, senators and so forth. Why can’t we apply this line of thinking to government on campus? Why can’t we have a yearly vote on budgetary matters, senators, presidents, resolutions, etc.?
This would not only teach students about the process of government, but it would also get students more involved in the government process on campus. As a student, I don’t know how I would even begin to start accomplishing this goal, but it is something I would like to see enacted in the future.
Why can’t we vote for things like a smoke-free campus? We pay for our education here. Why can’t we vote on how to spend our budget, what classes we’d like to see, and whether or not we want smoking allowed on our campus? It’s a fair way to deal with such controversial topics.
And from there we can solve many dispute. Why can’t we smoke on campus? Well, did you vote for it? No? Too bad, it’s your problem now.
As a member of a democratic society, and a student who plans to attend grad school at CSU Fresno, I would truly love to see democracy in action on campus, rather than the monarchy function that we have going on now.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bash on ASI or President Welty, I think they are doing a fine job. But I want to see students active on the campus that they pay to sustain. I would like to see all students able to choose what decisions are made on campus, rather than it decided at a meeting that we may not be able to attend.
From there, I would like to see more checks put on the decisions that the provost and/or the president makes. We have a controversy going on over the dissolution of the college of science and math. What can students do now? We can speak to our senators and voice our concerns. Beyond that, what can we do? Non-violent protest? Sure. Will it accomplish anything, probably not. But with a student-run system of checks and balances, we can vote on these decisions that are made over our heads.
What is the problem with this method? I hardly see one.
What I do see is a system where we are able to vote for our education, and we are able to make our voices heard.