New Semester, Same Old Student Government
The author of this piece wished to remain anonymous
As we return for the new year full of optimism and goals for this semester, one staple of campus has returned unchanged: Augsburg Day Student Government. The organization which has been, at best, irrelevant and, at worst, detrimental to student life prepares for another semester. Like BET movies, student government has often been criticised behind closed doors instead of publicly due to people of color not wanting to bring scrutiny upon fellow people of color. However, I feel compelled to speak out, as I feel that this year’s ADSG has actively harmed other students on campus.
At the meeting on Dec. 12, ADSG voted to reduce ASAC’s end of the semester stipends via placing them in a lower tier. Arguments for the cut stated that ASAC was not visible on campus, but the standards for “visibility” are neither clear nor accessible. The student senators reported that the executive board was against placing the stipends of ADSG members under the same scrutiny. Their decision was done to cut the stipend of the board, not the budget, a move that will directly harm students without any clear benefits coming from the cuts. Although I’m not sure why I’m surprised. One of the biggest victories for ADSG in my four years at Augsburg has been the banning of only plastic water bottles from campus events, but still allowing for other types of beverages in plastic bottles to be used in its place. Now, people at events can only have bottled sugar over water, which produces the same amount of waste but just makes them feel better for “doing something” without bothering to understand the dynamics of campus waste.
In the opinion of this student, ASAC has been visible on campus. From their website, ASAC “seeks to build community and provide opportunities for students to grow holistically through intentional and diverse programming.” Even if the events were not advertised as well as they could have been, these events were still hosted and they still received engagement from the wider Augsburg community. Towards the end of last semester Augsburg had various events in which students said things like this: “Last year, I did not know ASAC existed. However this semester, I’ve been to three events and look forward to more!” It is clear ASAC has been making an impact on the greater population.
The same cannot be said of ADSG. I recognize that both the president and vice-president are both women of color; and it must be noted that this critique is rooted in addressing my perception of their failures to uphold the mission of student government. According to the Augsburg website, ADSG “advocates for ideas, concerns, needs and activities of the Day Student Body.” Additionally, the current president and vice-president ran a campaign stating that they would bring transparency and, during the debate last year, pitched creating a monthly newsletter to keep members of the student-body in the loop. However, to the best of my knowledge, since their election, ADSG has continued to be a space inaccessible for students who are not directly involved. The lack of transparency is reflected in the decision to hold others to a standard that those within ADSG are unwilling to hold themselves to. Hopefully, things will change for the better this spring semester.
Editor’s Note: ASAC received their student stipends after going through an appeal process with student government in the beginning of second semester. The Echo uses anonymous sources on a case-by-case basis.