By Drake MacFarlane /// Backdoor Editor
Perpetual image problem
All governments face a perpetual image problem, and student government isn’t exempt from this. When people hear the words student government, an image of a room full of resume-padding, straight-edge, type-A individuals comes to mind. It evokes an idea of an unapproachable and blithe institution. There are few easier targets than a seemingly aloof institution. Taken together, the reason for lack of participation in student government appears obvious.
On paper, participation is barely adequate. If one recalls this year’s elections for Senate, finding candidates to run was such an issue that Lincoln Boyd’s (’15) cabinet violated the Associated Students of Lewis & Clark Constitution just to fill spots for the race. Even after those efforts, several of the races, like the class of 2017 senatorial race, were uncontested.
More reactive than proactive
At present, there is intense pressure within ASLC to engage students and get people involved. This will always be difficult, because people are more reactive than proactive.
Student involvement in the greater affairs of the college spikes when there is a sudden, game-changing event. In other words, students have to be pissed off to care. Examples of such flashpoint events, as recent as last spring, include the Walk the Talk series, the closing of the Co-Op and the ASLC Presidential recall. Each one of these events got people involved. But the point remains: for people to care, they generally have to be angry or passionate about a pressing event.
This is not a pessimistic statement, however. I’m not saying it’s bad that Lewis & Clark students only get involved when they get angry. Actually, I’m arguing that we aren’t pissed off often enough. Whether it is Oregon Liquor License Commission harassment, Green Fee controversy or retention rates, there are plenty of things to get angry about, and that energy has to be channeled somewhere. It has to be focused, and that’s where student government can climb down from its perceived ivory tower.
Student government has a potential strength: It’s an institution with credibility and enough manpower to achieve student goals. It needs support. So, I implore my fellow students to get pissed off. Email your senators. Peruse the new ASLC webpage (aslclark.org).
Show up to ASLC senate meetings (every Thursday at 7 p.m., in Howard 103) and have your voice heard.
There are issues that ASLC wants to solve, yet there are not nearly enough people outside the government angry enough to put energy behind them. There’s Pios for Pios, a student-led scholarship initiative that attempts to serve as a safety net when our peers have an unexpected financial hardship that might lead to leaving the college. The rising cost of tuition and LC’s retention rates are worth getting angry about. But, student government initiatives are worth nothing without student backing. ASLC is an institution that lives and dies with student involvement. If we want our voices heard, if we want to help our friends and if we want to make sure that LC is for the students, then we know what to do: Get pissed off.