The TCU Student Government Association performs complicated and demanding tasks through a network of branches, committees and advisors. The student body cannot hope to gain full awareness of each decision occurring in its government. However, one of the most significant changes in student government since the end of the last academic year has been the transition of much student programming authority from the Programming Council to a newly-minted organization known as TheCrew. Few details are readily available to the student populace, though such an important change in governing structure demands transparency and awareness.
TheCrew is a budding organization designed to enrich the use of the university’s public spaces for more student use and enjoyment. The small activities springing up in and outside of the Brown-Lupton University Union are the products of TheCrew’s efforts. However, the group does not operate under the elected authority of the programming council chair, and has created a parallel authority for managing programs outside of existing SGA committees.
A trend toward less direct student control over day-to-day happenings in student affairs is not surprising. As the university continues to grow in quality and prestige at unprecedented rates, including being named to the Top 20 “Up-and-Coming National Universities” list from U.S. News & World Report, the school’s outward drive to succeed and expand often outshines the internal growth of student awareness itself.
The goal of the university to continue to improve is admirable and allows students to reap many rewards such as new facilities, improved academics, developed community relationships and a stronger endowment. However, the trend to further these goals must be complemented by student awareness and participation from within.
The large gap between the two visions can be witnessed through the low turnout rates in SGA elections and actions like the creation of TheCrew that have gone unnoticed by the student body. The continuation of a gap between external growth and internal participation prevents SGA from functioning to its highest potential. Student government, as with any government, ought to be a mirror of the will of its constituents. Therefore, the best way to improve transparency and accountability of the government is to get involved, even by something as simple as voting.
A surge of student interest in the affairs of SGA and the changing of programs and fees through voting and awareness would create a better democratic environment in which the entire university could flourish more than ever. SGA representatives are passionate about the opportunity to act on those votes and respond to strong awareness. Therefore, follow the Skiff’s advice in an April 2010 editorial: “Words must be accompanied by actions. Students need to speak up and vote when they have the chance.”
Pearce Edwards is a sophomore political science major from Albuquerque, N.M.