Engaging in VSA fosters student discourse

As a first year attending Vassar College, I don’t really have the authority to distrib­ute advice to people who know far more than I do. Freshmen are supposed to be the blank slates, the ones who absorb everyone else’s in­put.

However, I feel the need to bring an issue to attention, especially to those of freshmen like me. As part of my work-study at Vassar, I attend the weekly Vassar Student Association (VSA) meetings held every Sunday in order to help the committee with the behind-the-scenes work like taking minutes.

The first time I attended one of these meet­ing, I braced myself for anything: dull, monot­onous talk, dry issues on technical jargon or anything that makes the time slow to a painful crawl. I was astonished to find that I genuinely enjoyed the meeting and couldn’t wait to at­tend the next one.

College truly is different from high school. One big difference is that the student council actually has a lot of considerable power. Back in my high school, I don’t think anyone took the student council that seriously. The school administration wouldn’t put them in charge of anything that could change the status quo, so it came to no one’s surprise that they didn’t leave that much of an impact (sorry, guys).

Even the elections were kind of like a pop­ularity contest where people voted for the candidates they recognized the most. I was a little disappointed but unsurprised that these council positions were usually only sought out to boost college applications. At Vassar, it’s a different ball game.

The VSA is in charge of finances and a lot of events going on throughout the year. It seems very advantageous to know what’s going on during those discussions. I have only attend­ed two committee meetings so far, but I bet I know more about what’s going on than most of the other freshmen.

There are several hot-button issues that are happening right now that I think deserve more attention from the student body, especially the freshmen who are trying to get used to being part of Vassar. All sorts of problems are being faced by the VSA committee.

I know that members are currently trying to find a solution to the recent exodus of mice, roaches and bees that have been infiltrating all the houses on campus. That’s an important issue that directly affects the students and the VSA needs help communicating the severity of this problem to the administration.

Another very popular topic during these meetings has been Serenading, which has been embroiled in turmoil for the past week or so. I don’t know how it’ll turn out on Sunday, but it’ll be nice to know the outcome of whatever unfolds.

To some people, it may seem like another passing event, but let me assure you that the politics behind keeping Serenading or scrap­ping it entirely are all too captivating.

And speaking of politics, I’m sure the matter with Vassar Conservative Libertarian Union (VCLU) has gotten the attention of several people across campus. That’s an issue that is way out of my league, but I still think it’s good to know the context behind this heated con­troversy.

The bottom line is that a lot of important discussions are happening at the VSA commit­tee meetings that I feel not enough people are attending.

Perhaps poor attendance would be justified if students were content with the conditions on campus, but this just isn’t the case. Peers are constantly complaining about the topics discussed at the VSA meetings, commiser­ating over the problems with vermin, poor­ly planned campus events, etc., and yet they don’t take responsibility for mending these issues by neglecting to voice them in front of the VSA.

Despite the fact that these meetings are open to everyone, it’s a little saddening that the majority of students choose not to play a part in their government.

It can definitely be boring and tedious at times, but every topic of concern that your elected members choose to spend time on will eventually affect all of us. It’s completely un­derstandable that there’s just no time to attend these lengthy meetings. There’s a lot of work to do, and who wants to spend their Sunday nights listening to boring discussions when there’s a mountain of homework to catch up on?

I totally agree. Like I said earlier, I’m in no position to say what people should or shouldn’t do–I’ve only been a freshman for three weeks, after all.

However, I will point out that our collective disinterest in the inner workings of Vassar’s student council is eerily similar to the nation­wide disinterest many Americans feel towards the bureaucratic complexities of Congress.

Democracy isn’t easy to maintain. It’s not a responsibility that we can hand off to a rep­resentative and then forget about. All of us should play a part in the student government to ensure that we get the best out of our col­lege experience. It can feel like an annoying household chore, but your living space will look much nicer in the long run.

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