Editorial: With a Blank Slate, Opportunities Abound for LSU
Since the beginning of this semester, the student government of Lang College, the Lang Student Union, has been noticeably absent. While other student organizations have already held their first meetings and planned their next moves, the LSU has hardly begun gearing up for the semester ahead.
This is partially due to the absence of the LSU’s facilitators, or student leaders; most of them graduated in May, and the rest defected. The administrative advisor for the group also left the New School at the end of last semester.
But instead of allowing the absence of key leaders to hinder the LSU, students should see this as a chance to start anew. For years the organization has been criticized for its inaction and plagued by a lack of interest from the student body. Despite the fact that every student at Lang, per the LSU’s constitution, is a member of the group and holds voting power at their weekly meetings, few ever show up. Many of those who do are lured by free pizza and soda — something that shouldn’t be the primary motivation for student involvement.
The LSU should look to The New School’s senior bodies of student government for inspiration. The Graduate Faculty Student Senate, representing The New School for Social Research, has proven itself as a functioning and effective force at the university. Members attend its meetings and organize events to benefit the community it serves. In April of 2011, the GFSS held a town hall meeting with President David Van Zandt and Dean Michael Schober for NSSR students to voice there concerns on issues directly affecting their division.
The GFSS proves that good organizational structure and student participation creates results. If the LSU can become a better functioning body of government and makes its voice heard to the administration, Lang will be taken more seriously in the broader context of the university.
Every year, the LSU is allotted $40,000 of the university’s money to fund student-run projects or events that directly benefit the Lang community. Such a substantial amount of funding gives the LSU a huge amount of potential to make a difference in the Lang community. Yet few students know or care that this money is available to them. At the end of the last academic year, the LSU hadn’t used its entire budget; the unspent money was reabsorbed by the university.
It’s no secret that apathy runs rampant among Lang students, and that inactive organizations like the LSU are often the butt of jokes. But $40,000 isn’t a joke — it’s an opportunity for students to make a change. If no one gets involved, then no one reaps the benefits.
On September 21, elections will be held for new facilitators of the LSU. Every student at Lang should take five minutes and vote. Because the LSU is the best chance that Lang students have to improve their community. It gives them a voice and a platform on which to be heard. For years, that platform has been used half-heartedly. Right now, it is empty.
It’s time for students to take advantage of that platform and install new leaders who care about Lang and are willing to put in the effort to make a difference.