Open SGA seats show lack of student engagement

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • September 20, 2012

At the Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood made headlines and raised eyebrows with his one-man comedy routine opposite an empty chair. Lampooned far and wide, the Oscar-winning curmudgeon drew attention for all the wrong reasons. 

Where Dirty Harry tried his hand at humor, Emerson SGA Vice President Caitlin Higgins will perform a juggling act with an open seat until the secretary position is filled. In addition to serving as the lead official with the power to advocate, she’s shouldered the responsibility to transcribe minute notes. Imagine a senior member of Congress doing double duty closed-captioning CSPAN. 

“We’re just getting back into the swing of things,” said the senior journalism major. “I think something that people don’t remember a lot of the time is that SGA is just a student organization. It’s just about finding students who want to put in all this extra time.”

Every student leader can sympathize with the difficult task of staffing up at the start of a fresh semester. But contrary to the vice president’s opinion, SGA is more than just a student organization. As the arbiter of the student activities fee, its influence determines how funds are distributed among student organizations. Unlike at the RNC, open chairs at SGA joint session are no joke. 

It’s incumbent upon members of the student body to step up. 

In addition to the secretary position, three senate posts are currently left empty. Large groups of Emerson students — including performing arts and IDIP majors and members of the class of 2015 — are un- and underrepresented around the table of the Multipurpose Room every Tuesday afternoon. 

Current tuition costs have made college the second highest investment most students will make in their lives, behind the purchase of a home. If we are willing to make such a large financial bet on Emerson, we should be sure that we are fully represented to those that set our tuition rates and distribute those funds — the college administration. Our direct liaison to that administration is the SGA, and each of their empty seats is a missed opportunity for us to make our voices heard at Emerson’s highest level.