November 7, 2006

It's time to dissolve Student Government

I think it’s time to hire a professional staff member to distribute the $1.3 million in student activities fees that the University collects each year. Eliminate every student officer—maybe have a president as a figurehead for “leadership” or “community,” but for the love of god, don’t let him make any other choices.

Last year, I expressed my disgust with the LCD screen in the Reynolds Club, which has been made effectively useless with the reconfiguring of the bus lines. But now, I’ve found something even more ridiculous.

It’s the “Student Emergency Contact Card,” and it is the brainchild of the Student Government (SG) security committee.

Recently, in response to concerns of campus crime, one of the grand ideas to come out of the SG security committee was to make, to use Chairman Kyle Lee’s words, a “Student Emergency Contact Card,” which would have all sorts of emergency contact information. I wonder, aside from how much it would cost to make a snazzy card, if it would be, perhaps, wallet size? I wonder if a would-be thief would, in the process of mugging a student, let them keep their emergency contact card?

I fail to see how this would be more effective than distributing the so-called “rape whistle.” At least the whistle makes noise. Clearly, so long as a bureaucracy is actually doing something and producing work, it is doing its job.

Since the Maroon ran an editorial strongly criticizing the SG response to campus crime, the listhost of the College Council has been ablaze with anger and concerns over the image of the council. Lee wrote that he was “extremely angry.” The Maroon, he wrote, had “its head up its ass.” The problem is that the scramble to project a more positive image for SG has probably already been lost.

You see, that’s what SG cares about the most, their image. No one really cares about what will happen in the future for the undergraduate or graduate body, because most of these students will be gone in four years. It’s understandable. It’s just that I don’t want them to have control over $1.3 million. It’s irresponsible. I think that anyone who thinks that a “Student Emergency Contact Card” would be a good response to campus crime is the one with his head inside of his behind.

And while we’re at it, how about we hear the council, for once, strongly criticize the grossly inadequate job the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) does on our campus. If 50 kids from Shoreland and Broadview can harshly chastise the University for its transportation problems, then maybe the Council could go over to UCPD HQ and demand, not request, increased patrols, increased response time, and increased “drunk van” service. Of course, if any of them are reading this, they’ll first have to form a committee on protests, or a committee on Chicago Maroon columnists.

The saddest thing about this recent conflict is the fact that the University has no better record of listening to student complaints, especially from undergraduates. Does anyone know what the University’s reaction was to the Students of Color Coalition proposal to the “straight thuggin’” controversy? I don’t. Does anyone know what their reaction was to the criticism of the new transportation system reported by the Maroon? I don’t. By being inefficient and untrustworthy, SG is risking the takeover of the student agenda by Chicago staff members who, as far as I can tell, only care about the endowment and the appearance of minority enrollment. (And yes, Dean of Housing Katie Callow-Wright, the food is still overpriced.)

President Robert Zimmer, I’ve been here for nearly four years, and I want my student activities fee back. It’s been misused before, as evidenced by the LCD screen, and now I think that the people who are using it shouldn’t even have access to it.

I think it’s only appropriate to make this argument on Election Day, and I hope that our new President listens: Our SG is unable to make any changes in student life—so this brings me to one logical conclusion.

It’s time to dissolve the Student Government.