Fall Undergraduate Student Government Association elections are coming up quickly, and there are no less than 17 open positions in the legislature, not counting freshman positions which are always vacant for this election.
You should be aware, of course, of the important powers delegated to our USGA, which are:
- Advise the university.
- Spend SAFAC money allocated to them.
- Appoint a member to the SAFAC board.
Most organizations aren’t able to do item 3 directly, (but can through intermediary organizations like CAB or club sports) and most don’t focus on item one, though they technically can do so if they can access the right people. All organizations, with the exception of The Triangle, can spend SAFAC money allocated to them — we, instead, produce revenue strictly through advertising.
Which is to say this: if the full power and authority of the USGA were directed against a particular university policy, and the USGA legislature unanimously condemned such a policy and advised the university as much, and the university wished to continue that policy (say, raising tuition and reducing the number of tenured or tenure-track professors) — that would be the end of it.
They have the power of the purse — sort of. USGA can appoint a single member of the 14-member SAFAC, which controls Student Activity Fee dollars. (Presumably that member must recuse themselves from decisions concerning the funding of USGA.)
The root of it, though, is this: USGA has few powers any regular student organization doesn’t have. In the end, it is an advisory body which sometimes holds events on campus. They’re not going to make your tuition lower. They’re not going to decrease class sizes. They’re not going to fix the climate control in Randell 327, or the leak in your window in Myers Hall. They’re not going to do this, not because they don’t want to, but because they cannot. They don’t have power.
This year has brought an unprecedented amount of attention to the democratic process thanks to game show host and WWE Hall of Fame laureate Donald Trump. It’s dangerous to suggest that the democratic process doesn’t matter in 2016 — a supreme court position remains open, there’s a real chance that the Democrats may retake the House, and also a real chance that a hatemongering Cheeto may hold the highest office in this land come December. You need to go to the polls in November.
But as for voting for USGA? Did you even notice that 17 positions were open? It takes only seconds to vote online for USGA positions on Dragonlink — but really, what difference will it make?