Monday, April 21, 2008

Who's your daddy?

Or big brother, rather. ASM has become increasing less "legitimate" on campus - as evidenced by the State of the ASM address on April 16th. The picture says it all.
A follow-up article published today continues this discussion of illegitimacy. Alex Gallagher was recently elected member of the SSFC and is an L&S representative.
“It’s hard to say whether it’s legitimate or illegitimate right now,” Gallagher said. “It’s illegitimate to a large portion of the student population...ASM overextends itself by taking on so many things."

Who really knows what ASM does? When logging onto the ASM homepage, one sees the groups' victories prominently displayed on the Victories page: making college library open 24-hours, getting bus passes for students, and it "moved Mifflin to an earlier weekend date." Let's break them down.
  • Making college library a 24-hour library: Just like the web timetable issue, if enough people are unhappy, UW sees that and will consider a change. Making this library open all the time is something students could have done on their own.
  • Getting bus passes for students: Really? They're nice enough to spend my segregated fees on bus passes? How kind.
  • Moving Mifflin to an earlier weekend date: Since a block must apply for a block party permit, it seems to me that maybe ASM talked to the residents and asked them to consider moving it. ASM does NOT run Mifflin.
These "victories" are not what they seem, and when one considers what ASM does in the meantime, it's hard to come up with anything meaningful. I know that they hold meetings. But what do they do? Who knows.

Do we need an organization like ASM? Of course. It isn't easy governing a body of 40,000+ students, but it needs to be done better. Most of us have heard about the controversy over UWM's candidates for its Student Association. Comments following that story urge UWM to get rid of its government all together. But I think it's necessary for there to be an organization that unites the leaders from each school and college together to make the whole better. Right now though, ASM isn't doing anything meaningful. I was surprised that they did nothing about the student outcry for the Web Timetable to return. Clearly, a small group of students writing a few letters to the Office of the Registrar was enough to put the Web Timetable back up.

In the end, ASM needs to be better tuned to what students actually want and needs to make its mission more clear.

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