Whitman Wire

OP-ED: Letter to ASWC

Let Students Act

Ethan Raffman, Junior

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ASWC is coming up with a new plan to better serve and represent the student body. Part of the plan is to create a new student union where engaged and interested students can work together to improve campus independently of the existing administration. In their infinite wisdom, the representatives of the student body have decided the solution is… to find representatives of the student body to bring their concerns to ASWC, who can then explain those concerns to the board of trustees and the outside world.

If this seems redundant to you, you’re not wrong.

Having students who want to create change on campus form yet another committee is a massive waste of time. Students who want to create change are already creating change. Students who are passionate about a specific cause make organizations dedicated to that cause, and students interested in generally improving campus life join ASWC. There is no point in wasting valuable time with more meetings.

The problem with ASWC is that it’s trying to represent the diverse and varied voices of the entire student body. It wants to be quick and responsive to student concerns, but also has to be careful of offending or misrepresenting students. However, this is a self-inflicted injury. ASWC does not and should not represent the causes of the students. At the recent Senate meeting, one question was about what happens when two student organizations have opposing views. Which cause should ASWC champion? The answer is neither. ASWC is not in the business of championing causes. ASWC does not support causes, ASWC provides support.

Supporting student organizations means giving funding to clubs, events and things like The Wire and quarterlifer, for which we are very thankful. It means creating a structure where students can make things happen. ASWC can provide expertise in working with the city or licensing agreements or insurance or other legal documents that students do not have the time nor inclination to deal with.

ASWC is a bureaucracy because the student body needs a bureaucracy to exist. Someone must handle the money and someone must mediate disputes. However, the way to make bureaucracy work is to avoid it as much as possible. ASWC can best serve the student body by getting out of the way. Let the students make things happen and provide support without taking over. This is the time for ASWC to return power to the students.

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OP-ED: Letter to ASWC