Want something done? Don’t ask SG.

By Barney Keller

Many times, in Government, we expect a certain amount of bureaucracy. There is the Social Security system, which processes millions of financial transactions each year. There is the State Department, which makes it nearly impossible to get a work permit in this country, and about as easy to get a passport as it is for one to find a decent meal in the Pierce dining commons.

Then there is my favorite one, the Department of Motor Vehicles. I love the fact that the gruff worker at the DMV in Watertown, Massachusetts asks me what my “problem is,” which, to use the Royko term, is bureaucratese for “please sir, I would like to assist you with this governmental problem.” For everyone else, it just comes across as rude. Then, while I wait, I have to sit on some uncomfortable benches for anywhere from two to four years, next to someone who looks like he has been there since the first George Bush was in office.

You know, I’m used to the idea of the Federal, State, and Local government being slow and inefficient. I think it is because I am desensitized to the idea of adults not understanding the needs of their constituents who don’t have any money. However, I am sick and tired of our Student Government barely doing anything beneficial for U of C students.

In reading a recent article written by Joel Lacenta, (Mid-term report: SG reflects on progress – 1/24) I was struck by how little Executive Slate has actually accomplished since it took office last year. I certainly haven’t seen any big changes. I can’t think of anything in my life that has been “streamlined,” which is also bureaucratese for “nothing has changed.”

I would like to point at, as Hubbard noted in his interview with the Maroon, what appears to be the single most important contribution to the student body that this Student Government has made. Again, I’m only going to talk about this because I believe that if Student Government was dissolved, I doubt anyone would notice or care.

I’m talking of course, of the LCD screen in the Reynolds Club.

Now, apparently the screen was put there for “bus surveillance,” so that in the winter, those students who live in the Shoreland can stand inside the Reynolds Club and actually “see” the bus coming from outside in real time.

According to Hubbard, when he sees people staring at the Reynolds Club Screen, “it literally makes my heart jump.” This is apparently because the accomplishment of people standing inside waiting for a bus instead of outside causes euphoria and elation. It seems that instead of a television screen, we have been given a sort of electronic anti-depressant.

I wonder, what happens in the fall and spring quarters? Will students wait inside to avoid the nice weather? Will they stand transfixed by the scroll of cool new events coming up? I never knew that the simple act of shelter for 10 minutes was enough to cause such delight in our elected officials. Perhaps student government ought to submit this television screen to the medical school for further study.

I think “makes my heart jump” is bureaucratese for “I pray people care about my waste of money.”

Even though our student government is, in fact, composed of students, they seem unable to think like students. Perhaps, in order to be elected, you can’t be a student, but that is a story for another day. I do not care if the knitting club is having a meeting this Thursday at 6 p.m. because I am not a seamstress nor do I find knitting interesting. I do not care if the Polish club is having their meeting this Friday at 5 p.m. because although I know people who are Polish, I myself do not happen to be Polish, nor do I study Polish. If I were Polish, and I wanted to attend the meetings of the Polish Club, I would find out more about it on my computer at home, not on the $1000 LCD screen in the Reynolds Club.

Sometimes I wish that the LCD screen displayed ESPN or CNN or some other cable channel. That would be nice. It also would be more entertaining than a video of the intersection of 57th and University. However, it might cause Robert Hubbard to have a heart attack. This is where the phrase “over my dead body” comes from. It is bureaucratese for “that would take too much work.”