Last week was the Undergraduate Student Government’s first meeting. If you haven’t been to one, go. It was one of the most entertaining events I have attended on campus. The senate is full of strong-willed students with big opinions and big personalities. When you put all of that in the same room, the result is inevitable; a lively platform for debate. I have never been to the U.S. Senate floor, but I would imagine it functions a lot like ours.
To call this year’s president, Nick Messenger, a conservative thinker would be an understatement. As far as I could gather, Messenger has a lot of faith in the undergraduates here at Ohio State. I would imagine he views himself as more of a delegator of power, rather than just its holder.
Looking around the room, you’d be embarrassed to have come wearing anything less than business casual. It was clear the vast majority were excited to get to the evening’s main event: voting. Senators and execs became most passionate when talking about amending USG election bylaws. When Messenger said, “(In the past) five to six years no one has experienced a consistent USG election”, I knew that we had reached some tumultuous political territory.
Amending the USG election laws came down to the most basic question in politics … where should the power go? Should it be in the hands of us as students? We pay the fees, so shouldn’t the government be our employee. Or should it go to experienced individuals, who know their constituents (us undergrads) well and understand what will benefit the greatest number of students?
What I found most interesting was the focus that this year’s Senate has. They have clear goals and a plan to get them accomplished. They don’t waste time on circular conversations; they would rather act (vote) to solve any issues for students than wait for it to become a major problem. This year is all about privatization. The USG is hoping to lower the cost of our textbooks with the Buckeye Book Swap, to make sure we have enough places to study in Thompson library, to create some sort of joint jurisdiction between our campus police and the Columbus police department so smaller crimes that involve students (such as theft), and possibly finding a company to lease out the parking to for the next 50 years or so.
I’m impressed with Messenger and his cabinet. They take our problems (such as parking) more seriously than their own (amending the USG election bylaws). Most Senators and cabinet members were appalled by the amount of time spent arguing those bylaws. If past performance is any indication, then it’s probably safe to assume that Messenger and the rest of the USG will be uncomfortable wasting time or money, and plan to be involved in only the core needs of this university, which is exactly how it should be.