At issue: Lack of student engagement with SGA
Our take: Elections are your chance to get seriously involved
Students are touchy about the Emerson tuition increase these days—rightfully so. We should all be vigilant and alert when it comes to the inflated prices we pay for our education. But undergraduate students also pay a yearly $800 fee for Student Services, money that is partially managed by the Student Government Association to fund student organizations. But elections to fill the positions that make these decisions—and advocate to the school on our behalf—are historically lacking in participation.
Emerson students are often vocal on social media with their thoughts on college practices and policies. When a tuition increase was announced in conjunction with the purchase of a new building at 172 Tremont, many students immediately jumped to the conclusion that the college raised tuition to cover the cost of the building. For weeks students complained on social media and with their friends that the school was purchasing new buildings without asking the students and subsequently raising tuition. However, school spending is discussed at SGA meetings where SGA elected officials have a say in how our tuition is spent. And as the Beacon reported, the funding for the new building did not come from students’ tuition.
The spread of misinformation can be solved if students were more aware of SGA and how it operates. It’s evident that the majority of the student body is uninformed, as last year only 139 students, about 3 percent of the undergraduate population, participated in the SGA election. SGA is not only responsible for discussing how the college spends its money, but allocates the finances for the organizations so many of us participate in. We reported in the past about the enormous responsibility of the treasurer, John Depa, and how he worked to make communication more effective between SGA and student leaders. It’s not only important for student leaders of orgs, but the rest of the student body. So make sure you vote in the SGA election next week. And don’t worry, we’ll have an article with instructions on how to vote before the election.
It’s important to exercise your privilege and power as a voter on the federal, state, and municipal level, and equally important engage in your collegiate community. The decisions made in school government impact you immediately as a student. We pay thousands of dollars a year to attend Emerson, so our demands for change should be accompanied by action and participation. Community elections shape your life and everyday activities in ways that federal and state ones don’t. Following national politics is important, but don’t forget that your fellow students are the ones deciding where and how to spend our budget, and you get to vote for them.
Every slice of pizza you’ve consumed at a student-run event was paid for by SGA. Student organizations organize many of the panels, screenings, performances, and other functions happening on campus. Though you may feel loyal to one or a few groups, remember all other student organizations are working hard to engage students. At Emerson, you never know when a communication disorder major is a photographer on the side, or when a creative writing major will have a passion for public speaking. Combining these unique and unexpected talents in a variety of zany events is what makes our community interesting. Participating in student government gives you a voice in this chaos, a say in the important financial decisions that make these coveted gatherings possible. So instead of getting angry about rumors surrounding how the college spends its money, why not engage in the issues that matter most to our community?