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Student Government ?
by Paul Waldowski
I don’t understand the self-importance of my fellow college students. It’s partly because I went back to finish undergrad work at the age of twenty-five after years of messing around, so the idea of protesting this or that issue of the day seemed like a dumb waste of time. Also, whatever they were whining about either seemed pretty unimportant or I disagreed with the aims of their protests. Add to that a healthy fear of stupid people in large groups and you get a pretty apathetic student. Don’t get me wrong: I have opinions and, well, I’m opinionated about them, but I’m not suffering under the delusion that I can actually cause huge changes either within the university or outside of it without a substantial bankroll.
In the grand scheme of things, the world does not really need college students, and I daresay that the last thing the world needs is more college students, especially humanities students like me. We need people to take out the trash, stock groceries, run global corporations, create wonder drugs, etc., but the market is showing that there are too many people out there who majored in Urban Hip-Hop Studies or Global Peace and Happiness. The only things you can do with degrees like that are activism or finish grad school to become a professor and add another layer to the Ponzi scheme.
The point is to look at the situation this way: If you are an undergraduate, you are paying money to sit in a crowded lecture hall, write papers and take tests. If you are a graduate student, you are paying to be an indentured servant. Some people call school a job, but if you have to pay in order to do your job what does that say about your job? You are as replaceable as a thumbtack.
Now, I like my “job.” If I do it correctly I will have that rare opportunity of not only pushing adolescence well into my thirties but I can also maintain the façade that doing so is somehow respectable. You know, pretend like it’s some sort of sacrifice while really praying the whole time that the Boomers will all magically retire in the next five years and I’ll get a cushy position in some university and never have to do the nine to five thing ever again. But I will never be under the impression that being a student somehow makes me important.
This is all just a bunch of background. The real target of this little rant is what must be the ultimate pinnacle of college vanity and folly, namely student government. Student government in high school is an excusable bit of frivolity, since it really is nothing more than a popularity contest and everyone knows it. Student government in college, though, has a special layer of stupid that I find far less forgivable. If college is meant to prepare a person for a future career, then student government can only function as a means to create future bureaucrats. What makes this especially silly is that many real government jobs require no experience at the entry level and offer career level promotions within the time it takes to earn a degree. I’ve been there. I know.
Recently at my school, the student council did something so utterly frivolous and moronic that it almost seemed like a Dada-type joke. Last year, a company decided to renovate some housing near the campus to create student housing. This jacked up the rent on what had been low-income housing and a bunch of people were evicted. The student council passed a resolution (I hate that word) to pull funding from any entity that did business with this company. First off, in their rush to do the politically correct thing, the council failed to notice the irony of the situation: the housing was renovated for student living. The students are the ones demanding more and raising rent prices. For God’s sake, it’s a freaking college town. Students are the very reason that this particular neighborhood exists and the company was catering to them. Well, at least this boosted the council’s self-esteem, which we all know is far more important than anything else, like, say, advocating development which would lower housing prices overall. No, we wouldn’t want to build more houses. There’s a rare species of dung beetle in that undeveloped area and we wouldn’t want to disturb its natural habitat and cause a nuclear winter or something.
The student newspaper (which is also silly, but at least entertaining) then offended the little gods of the student government by letting the development company run an ad in the paper. An ad for student housing. In a school newspaper. The clowns in the student council are now threatening to pull funding from the paper. The newspaper is bringing up the typical freedom of association argument while a particular member of the council compared the ad to Nazis advertising for genocide, thereby achieving the perfect mix of a stupid and offensive analogy and trivialization of the Holocaust. I suppose you can tell whose side I am on.
As for the low income families, they all live in my neighborhood now. If it’s good enough for me, they’ll survive.