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.