Editorial: Promising signs of change in ASUA
It was a moment of political courage, a lighthouse of clarity in the fog and stormed-tossed futility of the Associated Students Senate. In their largely successful attempt to slash the overblown stipends of ASUA officials, Sens. Dave Snider and Marisa Hall made one last effort to put the culture of student government to the test, to leave their distinct mark on an organization permanently confused and terminally stupid. Throughout their ASUA Senate terms, both Hall and Snider have demonstrated themselves to be the kind of iconoclasts, who, with more support from the student body and student organizations at large, could achieve real change in ASUA. Their time passes with the end of the semester, but the stand they took at the ASUA meeting last Wednesday was one that ought to be remembered.
In a marathon session Wednesday night, the ASUA Senate, lead by Snider and Hall, went after its own - cutting $3,000 in stipends from several appointed positions in the name of programs. Their logic was simple, and in a world as hormonally baffled as ASUA's, their logic was elegant.
"The less money we spend on stipends, the more we can spend on services for students," Hall said. How about that. Rather than throwing money at positions that ASUA elected officials were having difficulty filling, why not give the money back to the students. Certainly that seems more logical than throwing more money at the problem. Sure, money can drum up some interest, but the stipends are not and have never been meant to serve as a living wage. So we're not talking about a whole lot of cash either way. Thus, the cuts carry with them as much symbolism as substance, but that symbolism is well worth $3,000.
It's worth $3,000 just to hear ASUA Administrative Vice President Ryan Rosensteel say "screwed."
Unlike Snider and Hall, the rest of ASUA still hasn't figured out that government is not supposed to be a club designed to build the resumes of its hierarchy. That, however, is too often the paradigm even real governments function under. Those governments, though, are usually, eventually, voted out or otherwise removed from office. Eventually, fed up with being screwed, a constituency will rise up and screw its unresponsive government. And that's the screw that hurts, Mr. Rosensteel.
Almost exactly one year ago in this space, the Wildcat opinion board wrote this upon the ascent of Status Quo President Tara Taylor:
"We've been critical of ASUA in this space before. We will contend that the government has failed to live up to its obligation to represent students.... (We need) A form of government that involves real representation and accountability, where students will step up to represent the diverse needs of their peers, where funding will be based not on tradition or politics, but on maximizing the return to students."
After a year of the Taylor ASUA, that call remains just as urgent. ASUA needs strong leadership. As we've also said before in this space, the new regime of Cisco Aguilar, president-elect, may be the one to provide good leadership. The leadership necessary to avoid petty squabbles with campus political enemies, to avoid ludicrous state legislative priorities and on and on. The leadership demonstrated by Snider and Hall - a leadership toward legitimacy.