Assembly narrows in on its mission, focus


It caters to the locals.

That's how President Dymir Arthur described the College Avenue Council, a government body cast in a different mold for three semesters and counting.

As all of the University's colleges combined, the council stepped down from its role as college governing association to a government of a local area, the College Avenue campus. And as a local government - like any leadership role - the task at hand involves listening to people, Arthur, a Rutgers College junior, said during Tuesday's council meeting.

"We need to look at each other and say, that's not good enough," Arthur said, addressing this semester's new council members. "We always have to make sure we represent [our constituents] in the best way possible."

He urged members to talk with constituents to find out what they want.

"If you're not doing your job, maybe you shouldn't be here," he said.

At first, Arthur said the council wasn't sure what their new role was when the University combined its colleges, as the Rutgers University Student Assembly took center stage in passing bills. RUSA was the new united student government, made up of representatives from all of the campuses.

"It was very ambiguous and very confusing," Arthur said. "And the way it actually works now is campus council can address universitywide issues, but it's stronger when we push them up to the Rutgers University Student Assembly."

As a local arm of student government, looking to one's constituents is essential, Arthur said.

"We're an advocacy organization," said University Affairs Committee chairman Edward W. Ng, a Rutgers College senior. "We have to look at how people react, it's all about listening."

While waiting to catch a ride to class, Ng found striking up spontaneous conversation with another student helped him do his job.

"At the bus stop, I just talked to random people," Ng said. "It kept me in touch with them, it gave me a lot of ideas of what we need to fix."

Arthur said he gave the speech for other reasons as well.

He said he thinks both student leaders and politicians should be serving for the right reasons. At student councils, he said he noticed some don't do it just to be a representative.

"It's not about personal gain or privilege," Arthur said. "We're here to voice the opinions of students. You can't be representing students or what students want if you don't know them."

At the same time, there should be some personal autonomy involved in making decisions, Arthur said.

For example, Arthur said some policymakers only worry about how the policies they support impact the number of votes in their box come Election Day, which concerns him.

"If I had to choose between a policymaker concerned with their representation, or one [who] just wants to get the job done, I'd choose the latter," Arthur said.

At the same time, individual choices, based on the individual's own judgment, go into the art of leadership, Ng said.

"Sometimes its different when emotions are running high," Ng said. "Maybe you look at the numbers, and you may realize in the end, it's not the best policy for them."

Ng used the example of students advocating very strongly for adding a new bus route, but to get the route, tuition goes up a thousand dollars. In that case, he said he would vote against that policy, although it's a popular measure.

"How you vote might not be popular, but it's in the best interest of the student," Ng said.


Michelle Walbaum

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