ASG should advocate for all students

Reginald Webb, Times Staff

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The Associated Student Government election is almost upon us. While the outgoing officers’ service to San Jose City should be appreciated by all, it is time to look forward to new governance.

ASG just finished revising election rules after controversy in the Student trustee election between Joseph Heady and Jorge Casas in which Heady absorbed criticism for allowing students to give him their student ID numbers for the purpose of voting on their behalf. Heady triumphed using the strategy causing concern particularly from supporters of Casas.

The outgoing ASG and President Iriana Luna have spent the past two years making charter changes and now election rule changes, while offering very few initiatives beyond the worthwhile pursuit of a new child development center.There was talk of a new website that unfortunately did not materialize. There really should be an app upon which all students can communicate and get the most current information about events or issues of concern. Also, surveys and polling to really get a snapshot of what people are thinking on any number of issues would prompt more effective governance. Student involvement cannot flourish without a well-informed student body. A real commitment must be made toward this end.

ASG governing should be more about inclusion and participation. The current ASG has made the mistake of shutting out differing opinions and not understanding that minority views are still important despite a majority vote. Winning does not make a relevant argument become suddenly irrelevant.

It is human nature to want to feel like your voice was heard and that your contribution to the debate is reflected in the final decision, but with this ASG it too often felt like it did not matter.

Very rare has it been that public comments end up as agenda items.

ASG meetings are dominated too much by the president and her officers who always seem to be in agreement and have a tendency to shut down a lot of debate. The president is supposed to chair the meeting and encourage the debate and the process of idea exchange not weigh in on everything discussed.

It is important to remember that the Associated Student Government represents all students equally by definition. In other words, all students are equal as it relates to their governing body. If you serve in student government you are an advocate on behalf of all students equally. Serving in government or club affiliation does not elevate a student’s claim on the governing body. Government should not become a clique of students in agreement determining if others can garner their support or not.

This is a very important distinction because not every issue should be dealt with in terms of a majority vote. Sometimes support applies simply because it is a student to whom the government advocates for by definition.

Let’s have ambition starting with an election that has plenty of participation and a thorough discussion of what can be done. College should be an environment where students should strive to have change and to try bold ideas. The growing partisan divide in American politics has threatened our faith in democracy and the world’s faith in American leadership. College is where leadership has to come from to restore this faith and confidence.