Legion. An amalgamated journal.

Checks and balances

A student government for the world’s most self-important university is something akin to a limbo bar in the village of a Mbenga tribe—it rewards out the finest examples of the flagship trait in question. It takes a special display of narcissism to make it past the Admissions Office in the first place, and a measure beyond that to place oneself amongst the governing elect; as a consequence, the UC, for all its good intentions, has a doubly hard time when it comes to criticism of itself.

Which is perhaps why they’re so viciously guarding their own prerogative in choosing the members of Dowling II—the committee charge with investigating the role of the UC itself. The UC is a student group that also happens to be the student government, and it’s thus subject to all the pettiness and vapidity that entrap all student groups. And it’s shown a real unwillingness to rise above this. As the Crimson puts it:

The resolution, which is intended to protect the UC’s interests, illustrates the UC’s main failure: its inability to transcend its own interests as a student group to become a proper student government. Ideally, a student government should not have any interests of its own. Representatives to the UC are elected not to further promote or protect the institutional interests of the UC but rather to represent the interests of the student body.

It’s of some note that neither has the Crimson transcended its own interests as a student group to become a proper student media, but that’s another issue. What remains unpalatable is the principle that the UC should be allowed to have any say whatsoever in managing the formation of a group which could (and perhaps should) be very damaging to the UC itself. The UC asserts that it alone has the power to properly get the news out to campus. So far I’ve seen nothing but house-list emails. Dear UC: if you were serious about this, you’d advertise a little more aggressively than what’s typically done for a frickin’ dining hall dance.

People often argue that it’s anti-democratic and patronizing to have the administration run things like this. I certainly agree that the administration has major special interests which are orthogonal to the freedom of the student body. But student groups themselves have enormous, intractable special interests as well—and they too often happen to be of the petty, social, or vindictive kind. In view of this, sometimes it makes sense to choose the special interests of the administration, which are at least separated by a fair buffer of social distance from those of the student body.

Then again, the whole United States might have been better off if Lord North and Governor Hutchinson had interviewed members for the Committee of Correspondence and we all just called it a day.

Garrett Dash Nelson

February 22nd, 2008 at 11:11 am

But perhaps you disagree

No responses so far

The room is, as yet, filled with smoke and apprehension.