Don’t mend it. End it.
Over at the Critical Badger the students are lamenting the student body’s apathy towards the UW-Madison student government and the apparent incompetence of the incumbents. The “state of the ASM” speech only attracted an audience of three reporters and six ASM members. If you read through the Critical Badger’s post down to the comments, someone else proposes (yet again) a list of “reforms” needed to generate more interest by the students in their student government.
It’s an issue dealt with time and again, but someday I’ll get a group of students to listen to me. There is no need for a student government. Student governments are only good for taxing their fellow students so a few can have offices and salaries while attenting college. The other purpose of student government is to rubber stamp the desires of the administration.
If a student or group of students really wanted to make a difference on campus, they would form a single-issue ad hoc committee to tackle a problem and then quickly disband it when the problem is solved. The administration would take such a committee more seriously than it ever has the student government and it wouldn’t cost the students any money.
Reform of student government in Madison has been tried before and it will be tried again. The same holds true at any UW system campus, or even Marquette. Each time I root for them to succeed, but each time I know it won’t be long before the student government lapses into corruption and apathy. Sadly, the students in it will still believe they are doing something noble. And even if they achieve something, the next student government will just change things back.
Meanwhile, student governments are never representative of the students. They get less than ten percent of the student population to vote. After the election there is so much turnover that soon the student government doesn’t look anything like the body that was elected the previous spring. Of those holding office, only a few will actually participate. They’ll be the ones with titles, office space and salaries.