OP-EDS

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January 18, 2008

A level-headed policy

The Red Bull and Chipotle burritos were appreciated, but the real significance of Monday’s A-level re-opening was in the politics, not the free food. Four quarters after the all-night study space was transformed into shelf space, its conversion back into a cozy, sociable venue demonstrates the potential of Student Government (S.G.).

Students were understandably upset by the A-level’s closing. Compared to the squeaky-clean confines of Crerar, the interim all-night study area, the A-level was a veritable Bourbon Street. For the dozens of students burning the midnight oil on any given night, it offered a social environment that dulled the pain—if only slightly—of writing a B.A. or prepping for a midterm.

Not surprisingly, then, both slates in last spring’s executive slate election pledged to re-open the A-level. After consistent pressure from S.G., the University agreed to re-open the space, contingent upon funding for the Regenstein expansion from the Board of Trustees. When the Board’s funding vote was unexpectedly delayed, S.G. pushed on anyway, and the student body is now reaping the benefits.

In recent years, mismanagement and ill-conceived projects have plagued our student governing body. Upperclassmen remember S.G.’s introducing, with much fanfare, a $20,000 LCD screen in the Reynolds Club in Autumn 2005. The screen was to inform waiting students of incoming buses—something which perhaps would have been helpful if the buses weren’t soon rerouted to stop in front of the Reg instead. S.G. inanity has also been displayed in its funding schemes. Last year’s New Initiatives Fund bought us an expensive and disappointingly bad speech by James Carville. S.G. stubbornly refused to learn from its own failure, however, and recently reintroduced the pot of misused student money through the Uncommon Fund.

Because of these blunders, it is common for the student body—the Maroon included—to question the competence, and even the necessity, of S.G. With its success on the A-Level, however, S.G. provides the most convincing counter-argument to its critics. Our elected representatives fought to address a glaring student concern, fulfilled one of their campaign promises, and benefited student life.

Although it is too soon to declare this success a turning point, S.G. has proven that it can be a force for good and, more importantly, a relevant advocate for student grievances.