Be informed before voting on RUSA ballot
As you may have noticed, the United States Student Association is on the ballot this year for referendum. However, what supporting USSA means for Rutgers has not been presented as a two-sided argument, and as an alumna of the program, I would like to state my views on the organization to help you decide how to vote on the ballot. I intend to give a multifaceted view on the situation. While there are good things about the organization, there are also elements of USSA that you should know about before deciding to support.
First and foremost, I must state that Rutgers University is a diverse educational institution with many causes to fight for and many political identities. The USSA is primarily a leftist organization that supports leftist causes. While it has made significant strides in progressive causes, these may not be the views that every single student at the University agrees with. While I am more liberal in my own political views, I still believe in the right that students with opposite political views from mine should express themselves and have equal measure in the decision making process, so long as those beliefs do not tolerate hateful policies. Paying those two dollars on your term bill will go toward supporting many causes, and if those are things that you do not agree with, then you should carefully consider your ballot choices.
Supporting USSA will directly benefit a select few students at this university. Only 20 or so delegates can be funded to go to USSA conferences during the spring and summer, for a political cause that does not necessarily directly benefit everyone at the University. There are also certain causes that are not internally supported in USSA, one of which being the environment.
It is expected that USSA resolutions will be carried out by our student government and will be given priority over other causes.
This could be restricting to students who come up with different ideas over the year. In order to stay a member of USSA, the University needs to follow and commit to those causes. This can potentially put other ideas for the University on the backburner so that USSA goals are carried out. This freedom of proposing new ideas should be protected, and even if the ideas are not in line with the campaigns of USSA, these campaigns should still have equal importance. Lastly, this organization is truly only for those who can afford it. When I went to a conference, I had to pay for one of my dinners and almost every breakfast. The accommodations for students coming from the working class, in my experience, are not enough. While a two-dollar increase in funding on the referendum may help to make those accommodations possible, this is a valid point to consider. Many of the people who I met at the conference were middle class and upper middle class students who had an understanding of a certain world that was not entirely relevant to my experiences as a working-class student who earns money independently for herself. The conferences also restrict individuals attending to speaking in a certain way, that being an “inclusive language” on politically correct terms that are highly boasting of Latin and Greek-influenced vocabulary, which may not be relevant to the way that all students speak.
However, I must also express some positive notes. This organization is great for networking and linking up with social change causes across the United States. Supporting them means that we would have an increased network for that venue and that we could work more in conjunction with other universities for certain social change causes that are very relevant to the University, such as the DREAM Act, considering as how there are a great number of undocumented youth in this state. This means that we are supporting an organization that fights for education and the right for education to be free. Tuition, being at an all-time high, needs some groundwork, and this organization could help with that. However, everything must be considered when making the choice of supporting USSA, and with the pros and cons, the choice is yours. Like every organization, there are both positive and negative aspects, and Rutgers students must vote to decide if this is the right choice for them.
Kaitlin D’Agostino is a class of 2012 University alumna.