SGA matters to UA community

Bear with me here, because I know what you’re thinking: “No, it doesn’t matter - it’s just a bunch of students with fake titles doing fake things that still don’t matter. Who cares? Even if it did matter, the elections are a fraud, anyway.”

Steering clear of that last statement for now, since that’s an entirely different can of worms, allow me to focus on the first half for a moment. I suspect few people on this campus truly know how much money is funneled through the Student Government Association every year. Take an example from this year’s proposed budget that will likely be approved by the Student Senate this week: $175,000 is to be allocated to the SGA RAGE account for the annual RAGE event. Ignore the fact that the vast majority of students likely have no idea what the RAGE event is, we’re talking about $175,000 that could give a person and a half a full ride to this university. $175,000 that could be used to start up a university-run community development corporation. $175,000 that could fly dozens of students to research conferences across the country and get them established in the academic community.

The point is: it’s not necessarily about what the SGA does, but rather what it doesn’t do. We can talk all day about the merit of programs such as Ideas to Action, which allows students to provide input to an otherwise alien SGA, but until we demand that our voices be heard and utilized, we will have no true representation. That means attending the Senate meetings every week at 6 p.m., connecting with the proper elected officials and meeting with them and, when election time comes, voting on individuals who will hold your principles at heart, and accepting nothing less.

That holds especially true for those organizations that have so much incredible potential to act as change-makers on this campus but are often forced into alternative, often less efficient, channels because they feel they can’t speak through their government (looking at you, Mallet Assembly).

Now, do not take this as a jab at the SGA. No one person is responsible for the current state of affairs. In fact, those currently holding positions want nothing less than the genuine interaction and input from the students they represent, as evidenced by the “Say Hey, SGA” campaign which is doing a fantastic job of attempting to ameliorate this exact issue.

So please, before you write off the Student Government Association at The University of Alabama as meaningless, corrupt or some combination thereof, take a moment to figure out how it might be otherwise. Your liberties are the most precious things that you can ever own. Don’t hand them over to just anyone.

Chisolm Allenlundy is a junior majoring in philosophy and economics.

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