Student Government is facing a problem. The members of SG are elected to represent the students, yet if the organization was to lose touch with the students entirely, it couldn’t represent them correctly. This week SG tried to reach out to the student body in order to overcome this problem.
In a way, SG is facing the same problem any representative government faces. Representatives are elected and then go off to do their work in government. The electorate then often stops paying attention, at least most of the time. Only if issues are raised in the government the electorate doesn’t agree with or supports them strongly do the voters chime in again.
That is both the strength and pitfall of democracy. The voters are free to pursue their daily lives because if the system works their interests are represented. But if the representatives fall out of touch with their constituents the system breaks down.
But as SG senate president Stavros Papandreou correctly pointed out, students hardly can be expected to show up to meetings that easily last three hours or more.
The trick will be to engage students in a way that does not feel forced. This week’s meet and greet was a good step in that direction. Judged by student turnout of approximately 150 students who attended the event, students are interested in what is going on. Since SG is deciding largely student-related issues, including the budget and spending of money raised through tuition, students should be concerned. It is, however, understandable that on a day-to-day basis, students feel they cannot be bothered to follow everything SG is doing.
A yearly event can hardly overcome any existing disconnection. For that SG will have to continuously work to reach out to students. But as a start, such a meet and greet event definitely was a step into the right direction.