As a graduating senior, I have not felt the need get involved with the Student Senate election this year. I have opinions, but the choices Ohio University will be making in a few days will not be directly affecting me. However, the April 14 letter, “FUSS’ claims of senate stagnation are out of line” deserves a response from someone.
First, FUSS has never attempted to belittle the good things that Student Senate does. Jacob Chaffin, the vice presidential candidate, is a member of the senate. Matt Farmer, the presidential candidate, has worked closely with members of senate in his role as the Residents’ Action Council president. But when FUSS says that senate has been ineffective, there is a legitimate argument behind those words.
Over my past four years, I have seen senate do the following things: 1) coordinate multiple wonderful programs, including Pride Week and Take Back the Night; 2) pass resolutions either agreeing with or disagreeing with something the administration is going to do anyway; 3) push for things I do not really need.
I take no issue with No. 1. Senate should continue doing those things. I have no real beef with No. 3. Yearly concerts and smoothie bars seem like a waste of energy to me, but if senate wants to put their efforts there, I don’t really mind.
But I am frustrated that senate hangs its hat on No. 2. As a student, I want my opinion to affect real change. The idea that a senate resolution that administrators largely ignore is somehow a better use of my opinion than marching or rallying or phone banking is simply absurd.
Mr. Howell and Mr. Ballinger raise the complaint that “FUSS does not advocate for students but instead only protests with personal interests in mind.” I hope this is not an attack on the work of the individuals behind FUSS (which, I remind you, is three people), because I don’t think people who have worked in service roles for the university and who have organized marches and rallies are doing it for personal gain. Perhaps Mr. Howell and Mr. Ballinger are suggesting that FUSS is trying to turn the election into a debate over guaranteed tuition. To that, I say they probably are and with good reason. Guaranteed tuition is a huge problem not because it necessarily means higher tuition right away, but because it strips students of their interest in advocating for lower tuition. It encourages complacency and will make it harder for organizations like the Ohio University Student Union to affect change.
Over the past couple years, I have watched as senate has grown increasingly close minded, attempting to characterize outside opinion as wrong, radical or impolite. That’s not how a democracy works. Election season is the one time a year when senate insiders have the opportunity to listen to outside opinions. It is shocking to me that VOICE would rather spend that time discrediting the hard work of the FUSS candidates and calling into question their integrity.
Spencer Smith is a senior studying English at Ohio University.