October 13, 2003

SG addresses University community

This is the first of several Student Government (SG) columns that we will run in the Viewpoints section of the Maroon. Through these columns, we hope to keep you informed of what SG is (or is not) doing, thereby keeping ourselves accountable for what we say.

When our slate ran last spring, we tried to be as realistic as possible about SG's role within our greater University community. In other words, we only made promises that we thought we could honestly deliver and refused to make any outlandish claims to a student body that is anything but naïve. The University is a large, entrenched bureaucracy, a structure that is both good and bad. On the one hand, the systems and processes of this bureaucracy bring order and stability to an enormously complex institution. On the other hand, even the smallest proposed change takes time to implement; to expect instant results is simply unrealistic.

Yet things are moving along smoothly—so smoothly that we really cannot take much credit. For example, two of our objectives from last spring's campaign—to make Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC) a more lenient and generous organization, and to fight for international students' rights, with particular regards to the international student fee—are in the process of being, or have already been, consummated. This summer, SGFC fully funded the overwhelming majority of budget requests. In fact, at one point in mid-August, we had granted 92.6 percent of all requests for money. As a new group of elected SG representatives takes over SGFC next week, I hope we can work together to preserve this positive momentum. Also, starting next year, international students will no longer be exclusively targeted for an "international student fee" of $25. Instead, the cost will be shared by all students. Excepting our participation in a few discussions with administrators, SG cannot take any credit for this good result. It was entirely a collaborative effort between various individual students and concerned administrators.

As our year in office begins, much remains to be accomplished. Along with the continued reform of SGFC, we hope to utilize SG's name and resources, in collaboration with other Registered Student Organizations, to invite distinguished speakers to campus. We hope to increase student transportation options. Student health is another big priority. Moreover, the objectives of prior years' executive slates—increasing accessibility to financial aid information, bringing all class syllabi online, etc.—will not be forgotten, and we thank those before us for beginning what are inevitably long and arduous processes. My two vice presidents, Noeline Arulgnanendran and Yanet Bahena, as well as our student liaison to the Board of Trustees, Jesse Ehrenfeld, will talk about our aims in more detail in future columns.

I want to leave you with this: at the end of the day, SG is no more than a spoon. This silly metaphor is intended to communicate an important point: above all else, our role is to serve you, the students. This is why we were elected. When a student cannot accomplish something by him or herself, perhaps SG can help. Our resources are your resources. Therefore, regardless of what your issue may be, please do not hesitate to contact me personally at leilei@uchicago.edu or at 310-279-7278. As always, we are also available online at http://sg.uchicago.edu.