Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: There are going to be those who disagree with me on this topic. And I understand this may not be the most popular opinion, but it is an opinion I think that is worthy of sharing. I am all about our student government association. I think there are many merits to having one. I also think that if they are going to get paid there might need to be a change or two, because I want some follow-through on all of this talk of improving my student life here at Trinity. While I truly do enjoy being here, there is always room for improvement. When we want something changed with student life we are told to appeal to our student government association. So where is that constant improvement of life here at Trinity? Where is my B-cycle?
The student government association has always been lingering around in the background. Their lackluster elections result in an upset student or two. SGA occasionally sends out emails if Trinity Snaps gets out of hand. Sometimes in rather unfortunate situations we lose a faculty, staff or student member of the Trinity community; this results in the SGA president sending out an email with their condolences to the campus. What else has your student government association done for you? Where is that good ol’ B-Cycle we have all been awaiting with bated breath? I’m ready to ride that B-Cycle off into the sunset, but I sorta need a bike to do it. Perhaps it is the political science major in me, but I think it is of the utmost importance that we have a governing body over our campus that is comprised of students. If we cannot govern ourselves and act with some sort of organization then what are we even doing here?
Here comes the hard part, the part where I tell you that SGA should be around, but shouldn’t be paid unless they shape up. This past week SGA president Brenna Hill sent out a campus-wide email regarding the payment of the members of SGA. I’m not going to say that they shouldn’t be paid. I work at the paper and they pay me to produce a paper. However, I do think there is a sense of accountability currently lacking with the student government association. What tangible evidence is there that I can use as accountability for SGA and their work? They approve funding for clubs on campus. But what else can we point to directly that has made a tangible difference that SGA alone has done? I applaud their Improve Trinity Week and all the hard work that went into that. I also applaud every single club they paired with for all the events hosted that week. Circling back to that annoying political science degree I am paying so damn much for, I think maybe SGA needs to give us a little bit more. As our government they are separate from the Trinity administration. So act like it, show me what you got. Change this campus. Make it better. Do something, anything.
Yes, there are many other student governments that are paid, at colleges all across the United States. But it’s possible that those student governments also have a different level of transparency and change they are putting out every single week. I understand that we are a smaller liberal arts school, but shouldn’t that make it even easier to improve student life here at Trinity? If I am going to support my student government in getting paid, then I am also going to ask that you make it worth my while. I think there are great strides that have already been made since the elections that took place in the fall. I believe that our current student government has plenty of great ideas to change the campus. Now more than ever, it is important that they remind us why we elected them. Especially if they want to be paid for this. Sure, we are all just running around this campus getting involved in everything under the sun, but don’t join SGA for a resume booster if that is the only reason. If there are those who are involved in student government for all the wrong reasons, then there is even less incentive for us to support a government that just wants to fluff their resumes and make a few bucks in the process.
Accountability is the name of the game here. Show me that I actually did my campus civic duty (is that even a real thing?) by voting for you and deciding that you were the best of my class to represent us. I want to be able to look back on the week or month and say”” damn, that is why they get paid for what they do. Otherwise, there is no accountability to improve this campus. If we the students do not hold our government to a higher standard, then what is the point of even having a student government? If there is no accountability are we just going to throw money at SGA for approving club funds? Why can’t a business-oriented club take care of that? What is setting our student government apart from our clubs?
Do not confuse this with my disapproval of student governments. I think they have the potential to do so much good. However, to do all that good, you need to do something that can be seen and measured by the student body whom you so passionately govern. I would love to see more than a whiteboard in Coates. Start some initiatives. What happened to that group that was focused on changing the food at Mabee? Where are these new programs and groups going? We have a great group of senators here on this campus, as well as a driven president and vice president. So take this exceptional group of individuals and go forward. Find a way to make this campus even better than when you came. Make your mark. But don’t ask me to support paying you if all I see is a group that approves funding and does little to nothing else.