Butler University students need to recognize that the Student Government Association does much more than entertain students.
Students can and should do more to make their college experience the best it can be.
This cliché does not simply refer to concerts and extracurricular activities but also to activism and making the university a better place for future students.
More specifically, students should ask SGA to develop and protect diversity groups, to lobby for the university’s commitment to a liberal arts education and to build a healthy neighborhood around the university.
Many people distract SGA from examining every one of these important arguments by turning these issues into matters of personal responsibility.
This obsession with individualized duty distracts the student body from the way college structures and institutions affect the lives of everyone in the community.
A few weeks ago, I was speaking to a friend about a frustrating experience I had.
An organization on campus had essentially cost me money out of pocket through what I thought was carelessness.
I often forget this friend is a member of an SGA board.
But when she heard my story, she immediately said she would speak to higher-ups in the university about it.
My specific experience is honestly irrelevant.
On a larger scale, though, this is what SGA is about: solving the problems of students.
It is called Student Government Association for a reason.
There is nothing dramatic about using government to fight for a better student experience.
So students should certainly feel they can ask for better concerts and events—if that is truly the extent of their needs.
But the government can also make recommendations to the administration.
While a student body president cannot demand everything of university officials, he or she can—and does—speak as the voice of the student body.
The president could address campus concerns about issues like our curriculum if we asked him or her to.
At a minimum, SGA should be a preparation for “real” government.
But students should also expect more than just play-acting at being adults.
This is not a criticism of SGA, instead this is a call to the student body that frequently seems to be apathetic about the larger issues.
It seems there is no end to opinions on Smashmouth’s performance last month.
Ask the same impassioned students about the issue of a professional curriculum versus a liberal arts emphasis in the university, and some people shrug apathetically.
Politics, whether they exist on the international, national or university level, matter.
Shirking local politics has dangerous implications for the national arena.
There is no opting out of political life—authorities and institutions define what people are allowed to do, whether citizens participate or not.
In the words of the philosopher Michel Foucault, “You should ask someone who is not interested in politics…Why, damn it, are you not interested?”