Student government needs to establish real purpose
One of my teachers once said to look at any endeavor, organization or movement, and search out its purpose. If the endeavor fulfills its purpose, then it will succeed. If it fails to fulfill its purpose, then the endeavor will fail. With this focus on purpose in mind, I turn now to the Rutgers University Student Assembly. In my musings on the matter, I thought that a student assembly’s purpose would be to address student concerns with the University. I thought of how student assembly leaders would be able to communicate with administrators and resolve conflicts between students and the University.
I tried to find any information I could about RUSA. Out of desperation, I finally turned to the University website. After searching for RUSA, I found this description on the page about student government and organizations: “RUSA exists to not only serve Rutgers students, but to also empower the student body to be all that it can be. From mobilizing students to affect change on campus and in our communities, to working with University administration, faculty and staff to help students with their daily lives, RUSA is committed to the student body and will work hard to live up to your expectations.”
On the actual RUSA homepage, there is no mention of what RUSA does. There are a handful of links on how to run for the student assembly and a very informative link to the RUSA Allocations Board. Sadly missing on the website is any statement of RUSA’s goals and aims. At first, I thought this was an oversight. An organization that represents tens of thousands of students would surely have easily accessible information on their student representatives. An organization that prides itself on transparency would surely have transcripts of meetings available to the student body.
I am not the only student who fails to ascertain RUSA’s purpose. I have spoken to RUSA representatives who are perplexed as to their purpose as representatives. After the most recent meeting of the assembly, they talked about how it was essentially a waste of time. They talked about the recent RUSA bills about plastic bag use on campus and RUSA’s condemning of the New Brunswick Police Department. They talked about how they felt that nothing of substance was accomplished. These are not the vast majority of apathetic students who didn’t vote in the RUSA elections — these are students who care about the University and feel that RUSA has the potential to represent the student body.
I do not blame the assembly for essentially being a useless body because it has no purpose to fill. I haven’t felt empowered by the student assembly, nor have I seen RUSA work with the faculty to improve my life. So, RUSA will continue to meet, and students will continue to not vote in RUSA elections. The only way for RUSA to truly represent the student body is to find a real purpose that is actually relevant to students.
Carl Levitt is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.