Tuesday marked the annual Student Government Association elections. SGA tallied up the votes and the winning candidates lined up to received their victory handshakes. But last Tuesday, the SGA debates revealed some sad, yet all too realistic, truths about the university.
As the Progress moved to take its position to listen to the debates, it found something it’s used to seeing a lot of nowadays: Empty seats.
The Keen Johnson Ballroom felt a little lonely on that Tuesday night as the small conglomeration of students attending the debates was made up, primarily, of members of SGA.
Granted, empty seats are a given among events on campus. Comedians, lectures and forums are plagued with the empty seat syndrome, and many who do appear only show up because of class requirements or the guarantee of extra credit.
While there is no shame in either of the latter, events don’t have to be this way.
The student body has shown considerable interest in cutting-edge programming, like the N*W*C* program that we continue to mention.
This week, thousands of students packed in close at the Ravine, amidst chilly temperatures, to listen to recording artists Fabolous and OneRepublic. SAC Concert Chair Justin Hobbs gave an approximation of 4,000-5,000 people in attendance. A few nights before that, thousands gathered in Alumni Coliseum to cheer on Rodney Atkins.
By comparison, the Keen Johnson Ballroom is much smaller than the Ravine or Alumni. The room would risk violating fire codes if it held a hundred people or more.
As it stands, though, it’s unrealistic to believe students would fill the ballroom. Something even more disheartening than the small numbers interested in the debates was the absence of competition for SGA President.
As Alex Combs, the incoming SGA President, stood alone answering questions, he did not look triumphant. Instead, he looked dejected, and he vocalized this feeling.
Combs said he sees a definite disconnect between the student body and SGA. Because of this disconnect, students have no basis of relatability and, therefore, have very little interest in the organization.
While students must do their part, SGA must also do theirs. In truth, SGA can, at times, appear to be an exclusive club unwelcome to outsiders. Despite the various branches’ open-door policy for meetings, there is a sense of alienation that goes with sitting in the back of the room while a roundtable of elected officers talk shop.
Even the reporters at the Progress who cover SGA and its various events feel lost amidst the machine at times.
Because of this, Combs has a chance to prove his mettle. He said he wants to become more active in the recruiting effort by attending orientations and sitting down with students in classrooms.
If Combs sticks to his platform, he has a chance to build a metaphorical ramp of accessibility to the offices of SGA and make it a more interactive part of the university.
SGA works as a voice for students as a whole; it functions as a representative governing body for activities and policies that move forward on campus.
While the Progress may be kicking a dead horse, said horse deserves to be kicked dutifully and repeatedly. If you are a student on campus, SGA’s decisions will affect you. If the presidential race had only one contender, the nation would be outraged or, at the very least, offended.
So why should we settle for anything when it comes to campus policies? We attend a reputable university with ample amounts of good programming, and the key to keeping good programming is to stay competitive.
A one-man campaign is no campaign at all; it is a farce. While Alex Combs cannot control his lack of competitors, he, along with the other representatives in SGA, can work to make sure this does not happen again.
And the students can help by voting and attending events that do not include flashing lights, steel guitars or shout-outs.