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Opinion: Less talk, more action

Michael Rodriguez: Respect the ‘student’ in student government

Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

Student Government Association has taken a lot of heat in recent weeks. After the election turmoil, SGA now more than ever needs to step up its campus-wide effort to earn the respect of the students of Texas A&M.

A problem with SGA here on campus is its general sense of disconnect with the remainder of the student body.

Voter turnout has been low — less than one in three students voted this spring — and people wonder why. Unfortunately, our elected student officials seem to disappear after being elected. Elections should be the start, not the finish, of the connection between representatives and the student body. Senators need to foster this connection by purposefully engaging the general public and not just interest groups that pursue their agendas. If elected officials would go out to the public and engage students about concerns on campus rather than being content in Koldus, the student body may feel a greater connection throughout the academic year.

After all, it’s called the Student Senate for a reason. It’s called the student body president for a reason. If the titles did not have the word “student” in front, I would have no problem. Go ahead and sue each other until you are blue in the face. I, like many others, see the word “student” in the title as an honor and a call to action. Be representatives that we can take pride in.

During elections, I recall walking through Academic Plaza where students held banners for the candidates, and did not see one detailing the candidates’ platform. What if the candidate stood for justice, equality, and preservation of Aggie traditions? What if the candidate was all for a complete revamp of Dining Services and wanted better transportation? No one would know this from walking past these banners. All the students saw was a clever slogan for voting.

The problem is not isolated to this example. We are in college, folks. In or out of election season, let’s concentrate on the pressing issues, not personalities or technicalities.  It comes as no surprise that the contested issues in the course of the campaigns shared one thing in common: money.

Who spent how much?

What was the limit?

I mean, really? Do campus politics, too, have to revolve around money?

From my vantage point, I can offer one simple resolution to this issue.

The recently elected Student Senate votes Wednesday evening for the coming session’s leadership. It’s a new page for the organization. Let the representatives do what their titles suggest, which is to represent the more than 50,000 students of Texas A&M. Go out to general meeting places such as Sbisa, the Commons, the soon-to-open Memorial Student Center, heck, even the REC, just to be able to connect with the student body and receive input about current issues on campus.

Don’t make student’s go out of their way to get involved. Let the representatives go out of their way to earn the respect of the student body.

When a controversial issue nears a vote, take the time to survey and see what the constituents think of the issue. This is not rocket science, people, though it is political science.

As Aggies, we are held to higher standards. In order for SGA to mend the wounds individuals inflicted to general student confidence, members should take to heart the ideals of campus democracy — of the students, by the students, for the students.

Michael Rodriguez is a senior industrial engineering major.

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