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A town called ATHENS: At end of the day, students have no say

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or came to Athens yesterday, you know at least something about the Student Senate elections. We’ve all seen the signs, many have read about the candidates and some have attended the debates.

Because of how much publicity this election has gotten, it led me to do some research on both parties.

I found some good and bad points from both sides. But, I will say I believe RSVP has the best plan to improve Ohio University for the future.

While that might upset FACE supporters, I’ll now proceed to say something that no Student Senate member or supporter will like: At the end of the day, Student Senate has no real power.

I’ve read the constitution, researched the commissions  — the committees that compose Student Senate — and looked at past resolutions. The conclusion I’ve come to is that, no matter what the student senators say, the administration pays senate little or no heed.

That is reinforced well by the first line on the Student Senate website describing the Academic Affairs Commission: “We serve as a representative of student opinion on academic matters to the faculty and administration,” which is later followed by a line stating it has come to the attention of the commission that, in the opinion of the students, their “academic advising is less than acceptable.”

So why is that? Is it because these senators are incompetent and don’t do their jobs well? It is quite the opposite.

My research on this topic has shown me that Student Senate is full of young, dedicated politicians who are trying hard to improve student life at OU. But they cannot hope to succeed at this, because their hands are tied even before they vote the first time.

OU’s Student Senate is a body of students who are hoping to effect the change they want to see at OU. But in reality, it is a group that can be and often is ignored by the administration.

For students, OU is a non-democracy that you pay to live under. Is it a dictatorship? I think most — including myself — would say no, but the fact remains that students have little to no say in what happens at OU.

Matters of little importance to the administration are left to students, but the major issues are left to the “big boys.”

How much say does Student Senate have in the formation of OU’s budget? Or specifically where student fee money goes? It’s your money; shouldn’t you have some say in what happens to it?

No, I’m not advocating a university run by 18- to 22-year-olds. We do need the administrative structure we have, but there is nothing wrong with a democratic counter-balance. Think of it as a kind of “constitutional monarchy.”

Students are often treated as just a number at OU — just one of some 20,000. However, a system where students vote and actually have a say in university decisions would give those about 20,000 voices that could not be ignored.

Oh, and how does this tie into Athens? Well faculty, imagine students voting on how much to fund your department or how much you should make.

That idea might horrify you at first, but you might come to find that undergraduates could do a better job of dividing funding than the administration.

So when you go to vote, make sure you’ve researched the two parties well and make the choice that best suits you. Just don’t get your hopes up too much.

Chances are, no matter which way you vote, it won’t create major change.

Will Drabold is a junior at Athens High School enrolled in Ohio University classes and a columnist for The Post. Don’t agree with him? Email Will at dd195710@ohiou.edu.

 

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