I hate bureaucracy. Mild example: I once lost my temper and threatened a customer service rep by claiming I would launch a terrorist attack on a Verizon store when they wouldn’t let me pay for a new phone because I “wasn’t the primary account holder.”
Bureaucracy just slows things down and gets in the way of innovation and progress. And who better exemplifies bureaucracy than the student government at a public institution?
I know it’s easy to look at a governing body, get frustrated and ask the question, “What in (insert your divine power)’s name have you idiots done for me?” This is a perfectly valid question, and I know why you ask it. To be frank, there are days that I ask, “What have we done for students today?”
From your perspective, Associated Student Government (ASG) is a series of “by-law” changes. It is a group of pseudo-politicians that constantly bicker and fight over whose legislation has the most profound vernacular.
But, in reality, ASG is like a big inside joke. One of those, “you had to be there” organizations. The amount of work ASG’s Executive Cabinet accomplishes to improve student life on a daily basis would astound you. Consider the following:
This semester, ASG has provided roughly $490,000 to student organizations across campus, funding numerous club sports teams and events such as Diwali and Karl Rove’s lecture.
Campus Activities Council has once again excelled, demonstrated through a Broadway-caliber Family Weekend and a Homecoming that celebrated old traditions such as the bonfire, while creating new traditions by lighting up the sky with a dazzling fireworks display.
ASG has engaged with the local community through events such as a community pumpkin carving with students, Oxford residents and local children. And off-campus students are a little safer after senators completed a walking lighting tour, identifying a number of burnt out lights.
ASG has also provided students with dirt-cheap legal services. We have created a new Web site that is easily navigable and offers students access to a number of resources. We have recommended names to the Ohio Governor from which he will choose the next Student Trustee. Through Resident Hall Authority (RHA), we have empowered residence hall councils to create over 300 programs. And we have brought students from diverse backgrounds together through the Diversity Affairs Council Global Holiday Party. The list goes on, but this column has a pesky word limit.
Additionally, you must understand that one of the greatest challenges of effective leadership is finding the right balance between serving the students now while also setting a vision for the future. The opening of the new academic advising center is a clear symbol of the continued efforts of my predecessors and their dedication to improving the quality and convenience of advising on campus.
And I, in turn, have had the opportunity to help set the vision for a time when I won’t be in the red brick bubble, by helping plan the Bicentennial Student Center.
ASG is doing good work. No, not every member of ASG is a well-oiled, high producing machine. In fact, I would argue that any organization or institution which consists of several hundred people will have some dead weight. We certainly have ours in each branch, but the apathy of a few should not overshadow the good work being done by many who you have elected to represent you.
In summarizing this semester, it would be hard to ignore the elephant in the room and not mention my impeachment hearings, which took place earlier this semester. Though we continued daily operations and served the students of Miami during this time, it put a dangerous strain on the internal relationships that are crucial to effective student governance.
I personally came out of that process three feet taller. I learned much about myself and grew in areas where I was convinced growth was stunted. More importantly however, we as an organization have been able to identify our weaknesses, and I will be able to leave a list of suggestions for my successor to ensure that he or she will put in place the safeguards to prevent a “constitutional crisis” from occurring again.
In closing, let me share a brief narrative. A few weeks back, I was honored to be given the chance to speak with a group of about 400 high school seniors and their parents. It was early in the morning, and I expected to look out over a sea of comatose punks that would have rather been sleeping through their homeroom class back at their stomping grounds.
However, before I was to speak, the moderator of the event posed this question to the group; “How many of you have never been to Miami before?” Over half the hands in Hall Auditorium shot up in the air. But it wasn’t the hands that caught my attention. It was the faces. I saw excitement, spirit and pride; pride from people who have never been uptown on a weekend, never suffered through a finals week and never even seen a Miami hockey goal. In their faces was the potential of what the Miami experience could be for them.
I challenge you over this holiday break to try to reconsider what you envisioned your Miami experience to be. Whether a first-year or a senior, reflect on that moment when you were accepted to Miami. What were your expectations? Your hopes? Your vision?
Once you’ve compiled that list, I sure hope you’ll let me know. Because we’ll do everything we can to make it happen. That’s why ASG is supposed to be here.