Monday, December 5th, 2016

Blaming the peasants

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Let’s start with an update on UW-Milwaukee’s student government. The UWM Post has reported the student government has been let back into their offices but Student Association Senate Speaker Russell Rueden (hold the sauerkraut) has been suspended from student activities.

The Badger Herald in Madison has a story on the controversy. Of course, their student government has tight fiscal controls that would prevent something like this happening there. Everyone try not to laugh too hard.

Student governance defender Jon Hayden blames the peasants for the troubles of the ruling oligarchy.

You got what you deserved, whether you like it or not. You can cry, you can moan, you can organize protests, but you failed yourself.

Sincerely from the great, and scandal-free, UW-Green Bay,

Jon Hayden

I would take a cheap shot at his totalitarian tendencies, but he is a college kid. That, and his blog doesn’t allow comments. So we’ll just laugh hysterically at his apparent belief UW-Green Bay is immune from corrupt student government.

Um, Jon, what you wrote is indistinguishable from what student government defenders were saying twenty years ago when I first suggested student government should be abolished. Time to try a new paradigm, I think.

Students and faculty at UW-Milwaukee will be happy to learn their student government troubles have hit the big time in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required). That oughtta convince the administration they did something wrong, no?

Recess Supervisor comments here, “Imagine what would happen if you gave high school student councils the power to tax and spend. You’d probably get something similar to this.” Add sex and beer to the mix, and I think we’re getting the idea.

Dominick Riesland writing in The University Standard (needs an RSS feed) writes a long story how student government has changed in recent years, including the student organization office allocation process (yes, Eric, little has changed). But Riesland also writes how student government tried the “black capsule” option:

At the meeting, a document was passed around called the Financial Accountability Act of 2006, which would have ordered that the Union, Norris Health Center, Klotsche Center and the Athletics department undergo an audit and be similarly shut down “in order to comply with the University’s interpretation of F20.” The stated reason was that President Prahl did not want to set the precedent of having to release the information on the Private Account because that would undermine the ability of the SA to act as a check on the administration. If she did release this information, she claimed, future SA Presidents would be forced to do the same, which removes the independence of the SA. There was no quorum; therefore, no vote could be taken on this measure. But given the track record above, there is no reason to believe that this setback will make the legislation go away. {emphasis added}

I especially love the Nixonian logic, even if there’s no way in Hell the administration would ever agree to such nonsense. He concludes, “This is not the pattern I want to see from student government, as it undermines the entire concept of shared governance. Such evasiveness and apparent corruption could lead to a repeal of the vaunted Wisconsin Statute 36.09(5) that guarantees students the right to participate in University policy.” One can only hope.

Before some student comments below about how they are going to use this as an opportunity to make student government better, let me remind you of some final thoughts of a student who tried to lead a group to change the student government at UW-Madison last year:

The reason Student Government failed is exactly two of the six members actually believed in the idea of revolution. It was clear to me almost from the beginning that aside from Steve and myself, no one wanted to put in the effort to make this thing work. In hindsight, one could easily make the case that some fraction of the group was just using SG as another grandstanding tactic to further its ASM ambitions.

Sometimes it sucks to be a student trying to save your fellow students from being oppressed by The Man.

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