It?s time for a change. There exists enough student discontent with the organizational infrastructure on this campus that we should begin challenging these institutions. In this issue alone we discuss problems with the Student Dormitory Council (SDC) and the University Disciplinary Committee (UDC). In previous issues this semester we?ve been critical of both the Activities Board and Student Senate.
In many ways, these organizations are unlike any others on campus. Student Senate and SDC are the governing bodies that are supposed to represent students, yet there are few people who truly feel that Senate or SDC represents them. To be blunt, these organizations control student dollars and should be controlled by the student majority, yet that doesn?t seem to be the case. Their histories are littered with cases of embezzlement, favoritism, and bureaucratic shenanigans.
It?s no wonder that so many students are largely turned off by these groups.
Although it is a surprise that so much attention has come to AB this semester, it is widely known that it is long overdue for a change. For years, understaffing and low interest levels allowed a small group of people to run many parts of AB without any democratic selection or recourse to the greater student body. Accusations of bias have brought the organization under scrutiny and now students are demanding that it be more responsive to their concerns.
The UDC is a different and, perhaps, more important concern. It is easy for students to spend four years at CMU and only come into lateral contact with AB, Senate, and SDC. Coming in contact with the UDC, though, is no laughing matter, as the UDC has the ability to terminate any student?s time at CMU. If Senate doesn?t like you, they won?t fund your event. If UDC doesn?t like you, it?s time to pack your bags.
Each of these organizations has unique problems and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to fix them. Yet there exist common themes that underlie all of these challenges.
Firstly, these organizations need to be more open to the community. We should not tolerate secret justice or secret budgets. While there may be a need to protect the privacy of individuals, the community has a right to know much more than it currently does.
Secondly, these organizations need to be more democratic. Say what you will about Senate, but at least the community has the chance to elect members. SDC and AB need to be more democratic in how they choose their leadership. It is entirely unacceptable that the current head of AB Political Speakers was chosen for the job solely because he was the outgoing chair?s housemate. This kind of cronyism and favoritism is far too common in these organizations and can no longer be tolerated. UDC may be the worst of them all.
Although students are asked by the administration to participate, one can only imagine what metric is used to choose these students.
Thirdly, and most importantly, these organizations only continue in this manner due to lack of student interest and scrutiny. If students were interested in SDC?s structure or in improving UDC, these organizations would no longer be able to run the way they do.
It?s time for change. These organizations are unlike any others at CMU. They are structural elements of the university and they have an inordinate amount of money and power. It?s time for students to improve these institutions and work to make them better for the university.
There are some in Senate and AB already working towards this goal, but they need our support in order to turn these organizations around.