With consolidation looming, USF is facing some of its biggest changes in decades. Discussions about academics, student fees and entrance requirements have dominated the coverage. Students especially have been concerned about the changes that will come to student life.
Student Government (SG) is one of the most important institutions on campus, with jurisdiction over funding for hundreds of student organizations and more than a dozen departments.
If USF does not want students to have a diminished experience, giving each campus SG autonomy is key.
A geographically consolidated SG would fail to give students a fair opportunity to voice their opinions. Open forum, a designated section of every committee and Senate agenda for students to speak about items that their representatives will be voting on, would be limited to students who were able to go to those meetings.
All of the campuses — Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee — are so spread out that, in most cases, students from other campuses would face an undue burden in telling their Senate how they feel.
If the SGs are consolidated, Senate seats will become far more competitive and limit the number of available chances to learn how funding at USF works.
The three campuses face many different issues. Many of the proposals to these problems start and end in SG.
Forcing the SGs to consolidate under a single unit would extend meetings, as more issues are loaded into often crammed agendas.
It would also force senators to vote on issues that have no impact on themselves or their constituents, leaving them in a position to vote against the interests of the students those issues impact.
As the consolidation committee moves forward, it needs to remember these and other issues and consider how they can best help students.
At its best, SG is a place for students to share their concerns and improve the quality of life on campus.
Consolidation should protect that, not sacrifice it.
Aida Vazquez-Soto is a senior majoring in political science and economics.