“No Taxation without Representation” was a rallying cry shouted by settlers and soldiers in the 1700s leading up to the American Revolution, but there is a similar lack of representation that has been developing at Grand Rapids Community College over the last year.
We all pay a Campus Activities Fee with our tuition. It’s not too much, only $10, and the money goes to fund activities put on by the Campus Activities Board and other on campus clubs and organizations.
Student Congress added the fee to raise money to try and build the community spirit so many people have said that community colleges lack. This money is supposed to be divided up by Student Congress, a group chosen by the students to represent the students’ interests to the college administration. These are the two main responsibilities of our student government. But Student Congress does not currently exist, and hasn’t existed for more than a year now.
In September 2012, Student Congress self-destructed amidst a flurry of infighting, much like our federal government did this fall, but our student government has yet to reopen.
Bogged down trying to reform the student government, the three members of the Student Leadership Advisory Council have yet to release a full draft of our new constitution, and dates for ratification have been repeatedly pushed back. Now they have been pushed back another semester.
Every two weeks they have asked for feedback, but it’s difficult to give feedback with the lack of an actual document to give feedback on. Meeting after meeting passes with the same information being repeated and little to no progress being made while the three members of SLAC debate behind closed doors.
However, there is still a bigger problem. While Student Congress sorts itself out, the student body has gone entirely unrepresented before the Board of Trustees, the seven member group that sets tuition rates and makes other important decisions that directly impact all GRCC students. There is a time set aside at each monthly meeting specifically for the President of Student Congress to present issues and information to the board. For more than a year now, that time has slid by as the Board Chair says, “Student Report… There is none at this time.” Which I’m sure the administration doesn’t mind. They don’t have to consider the student’s opinion, making the long meetings a little shorter.
And there are plenty of issues on campus for the students to have an opinion on. Portions of the outside community, and Board of Trustees, want to defund the Actors’ Theatre. Do the students want that? Some students attended as individuals to speak out against CLS 100 being required for freshmen. Are there many other students that feel that way? What about the new closed captioning policy? Do students support it?
These are questions our student government should be answering and reporting to the board, but while the newspaper has sent at least one reporter to each meeting, we’ve yet to see a representative from SLAC even sitting in, let alone standing up, for the student body.
SLAC may have a lot on their plate rewriting the constitution (although officials in Iraq managed to draft their constitution in eight months, in the midst of sectarian violence, and they had to get approval from more than 50 people), but that shouldn’t mean that the student body goes unrepresented. Especially for a period of time that is as long as some students’ entire time in college. If they want to continue receiving a Campus Activities Fee, and their paychecks, they should start doing the other half of their job.