By Nicholas Bense
Legitimate government exists to serve its constituents. When a legislative body fails to hold its people’s interests above their own, it ceases to function as it should. This holds especially true in times of crisis and financial need. As a current member of the Geoduck Student Union, I believe the organization is in need of severe scrutiny.
Although I am quite proud of our student government for several reasons, including our decision to double our weekly meeting times and some strong and sincere efforts to create a safer campus community for students, I believe that we have spent much time focusing upon ourselves as an organization and not enough time creating tangible improvements to student life on our campus.
This is a fault I must admit is my own as well. I feel as though I have greatly failed the student body to fully deliver the responsibilities bequeathed to me, and for that I sincerely apologize.
During my time as a member of our student government, I have witnessed a shift away from what I believe to be some of the major guiding philosophies of our campus community. Last quarter, the GSU decided to forgo its egalitarian structure in favor of a hierarchical one. Granted, we were extremely lucky to elect a Chair who I believe to be an excellent and trustworthy leader for our organization. However, I cannot help but wonder if such a structure could present problems down the line with our student government or if it truly reflects the ideology among the majority of students on our campus.
Political beliefs aside, the other disturbing trend I have witnessed in my time as a representative of the Geoduck Student Union has been a push by certain elements to increase our compensation. I was personally elected to the GSU on a campaign platform which included the donation of my stipend compensation to form a scholarship for non-GSU students who show a strong desire to bring positive change to our campus (the GSU, to my amazement, decided to vote against endorsing this scholarship; it is now known as the Fighter for Change Scholarship and should be available to apply for in the next two years). As such, I stand firmly with the other hardworking members of the GSU who fought to prevent our stipend increase earlier in the year and will continue to do anything I can to ensure the GSU does not raise its wages or further its financial burden on the student populace.
The budget issue continues to be a source of much concern for members of the GSU. As of now, the GSU receives funding from the Student Activities Board, the entity which is responsible for funding every other student organization on campus. The SA Board puts each group on the same footing through hearings and regulations to enforce accountability and ensure funding serves the campus community as a whole. Even the Cooper Point Journal, with its high production costs and importance to the campus community, is not exempt from this equalizing element.
There appears to be an almost even split between those on the GSU who believe we should stay the course with our current system and those who are advocating for the implementation of a new student fee to fund the organization. This proposed new student fee would exist in addition to the Student Activities fee. At the time of this writing the fee exists as an open ended idea which could potentially be used to increase GSU member stipends or even potentially abused to circumvent regulations which prevent the GSU from using its budget to provide food for its own members. These regulations exist for every other student group on campus.
Fortunately, the matter has been laid before the student body to decide. On the Week 8 Winter ballot, there is an advisory question placed before the student body to determine whether or not there is enough support to pursue a new student fee as a funding scheme for future iterations of the GSU. If this vote passes, the fee will not be initiated, however the GSU will use the results as an indication to move forward on the project and present the actual fee vote for next fall. I ask of you to please take the time on this quarter’s ballot to ensure that our student government truly reflects your personal opinions and represents you in a manner that you see fit.