The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Op-Ed: Why I’m dropping Student Government

After two years of serving on Student Government, I have decided not to return for my final year. I would not consider myself somebody that has done huge things within the position I held. However, everything I do, I do for as long as possible. Not returning to Student Government is a decision that I did not make lightly.

Student Government is crumbling as you read this. As a member of the General Body, I have seen firsthand the inefficiency of campus’s supposedly most influential organization, and quite frankly, I have not been invested enough in Student Government to stay and try to make change.  

The fault lies within the very culture in and around Student Government. We need a complete revamping of how we as a student body think about the organization that is intended to represent us. We need to reposition how Student Government exists on this campus, and rethink the ways in which students become involved. This is for a variety of reasons.

There is no motivation to participate. Last year, there were only three contested positions out of a possible 12. The year before that there was only one. Upsettingly few people actually vote in these elections anyway. Out of around 2,700 possible voters, only 316 voted last election. But this is not all. The student body has zero vested interest in anything that Student Government does. An average Instagram post from @lafstugov hardly gets 50 likes, many of which are from Student Government members themselves.  

Student Government is woefully inefficient. As a General Body member, I was never given any timelines or responsibilities nor did I ever feel pressured to meaningfully achieve anything. I don’t think anybody else did either. We started semesters by goal setting, but rarely was there any accountability to follow through with these goals. I’ve heard tales of the “old Student Government” where all meetings met quorum (majority present), representatives wore business casual attire and each committee gave substantial updates on what it accomplished. For as long as I have been in Student Government, quorum is rarely met, representatives show up in pajamas and nobody pays attention past their laptop screens. 

The most recent meeting I attended had 14 members present, not enough to vote on the multiple business items of the week. An emergency Zoom meeting had to be called and even that only had 16 members, just satisfying quorum only after habitually absent members were removed from their posts. Student Government is not allowed to vote without a quorum, and the fact that we abided by that rule surprised me. From election mishaps to sheer disregard of policy, the current constitution and bylaws are treated as mere suggestions. The culture of Student Government is a culture of aimlessness: the organization has no direction, nor does it attempt to create one. 

To be clear, this is not intended to disparage the current members of Student Government, especially those that have worked diligently to better it. Most people that serve care deeply about Lafayette. Every year, each candidate runs on a platform of transparency and increased dedication. But this alone cannot change the culture of Student Government. The start of this change is you. Apply for the General Body. Care about Student Government. Vote

Despite inefficiency, these individuals wield significant power. Student Government is one-third of the governing bodies of the college. Vote for peers that you want to represent you to the faculty and the Board of Trustees. If you feel strongly about Greek Life, vote for individuals that hold similar values. If you want changes to your dorms, ask candidates what they will do about that issue. If you care about the budget for your club, take the time to learn how the Student Government appropriates funds. I, unfortunately, do not feel as though I can effect change from within Student Government, but you all can effect change by caring.

Emma Chen ’24 is a two-term representative on Student Government’s Equity & Inclusion Committee. She also serves as the news editor for The Lafayette.

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About the Contributor
Emma Chen
Emma Chen, Managing Editor
Emma has very strong opinions about crust, has never eaten a blueberry, and is a staunch hater of AP style.

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