Comments on purpose of student government

By on September 19, 2002

The undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) of Quinnipiac University has a stated purpose ultimately to serve the best interests of the student body. But is this the case when the student government programs for each individual class, promotes each classes activities, deals with student body’s concerns, runs the student activities financial allocations and then votes and discusses on the behalf of the student body? Does even our own national government do all of this?
The undergraduate student body is represented by a President, Vice President of Concerns, Vice President of Public Relations, Vice President of Finance and Vice President of Student Programming. Each class has a President and Vice President with six representatives for the Junior and Senior Classes. The Freshman and Sophomore classes has eight representatives each. Each class is responsible for programming for their own class, worrying about student concerns.
The Student Programming Board, part of the student government with the VP of Student Programming, is responsible for the school’s programming. And then each organization plans activities and events for the student body. Too much programming and not enough quality content. One may notice that not a lot of people are interested in events that occur on campus. People would rather go off campus for events.
The major goal of SGA members seems to be padding a resume rather than bringing about change. American forms of government are supposed to be serving the people and not those who are elected. What is the Student Government Association’s purpose? The purpose should be to serve the student body first, and their members second.
Does student elections actually pick the right politicians for the job? In all honesty, popularity contests often never pick the best people for the job. Our own student government association is filled with the campus’ most popular students. Just try to pit a philosophical or intellectual against a popular student, it’s suicide. Idealism and ability have been dismissed in favor of social mobility.
Critics of the undergraduate version often deem student governments in Law Schools the best form of student representation. Laws and regulations are followed and reform is allowed when necessary. It is impossible to count on two hands how many times our student government was succesful against the will of the school’s administration. In our undergraduate form of representation, the government responds to the will of the Student Center staff, who then respond to the will of the Administration and then to the President and then to the Board of Trustees.
Our student government does nothing except complain to a non-profit institution known as Quinnipiac University. Non-Profit Educational Institutions like Quinnipiac are concerned with spending the income they make off the student tuititions and various donations. The Arnold Bernard Library and the Ed McMahon Center were built with the money of outside investors. Student money barely put a chink into the debt that Quinnipiac University owes for all their recent building projects.
The student government this year hopes to get President John Lahey to show up to at least one Student Government Association meeting. That is all good and dandy, but Lahey’s major function is that of a fundraiser. Student affairs are a background, if not forgotten concern.
To be effective, the student government must have real and actual control over student affairs and life on campus. Until then, debate will remain meaningless and the Student Goverment Association will be labeled in my mind as a club or organization rather then a government.


About Sean Hughes - Staff Writer