Student Government Needs to Get Its Priorities Straight

Fourth Estate Archives


Anyone who pays attention to Mason’s Student Government will know that the organization has had quite an embarrassing year. Though some members have tried to keep the body focused on its original mission, too often this year it has deviated from its proper function.  

Student government was, is and should always be an organization whose sole purpose is the facilitation of ongoing personal feuds between its members. It should be a playground for aspiring politicians to act out “House of Cards” style scenarios on a smaller scale, with all of the tribalism, secrecy and backroom dealings that accompany real politics.

Though there has been plenty of that this year, this Student Government consistently faced attempts by some of its members to derail the group’s agenda, using tactics such as passing bills, organizing events and reaching out to the student body. Such efforts are emphatically not the purpose of Student Government.

Petty arguments are the lifeblood of Student Government. It provides some of Mason’s most socially problematic students with an opportunity to satisfy their urges in a contained environment.

Let’s say a student senator gets a coalition together to block a bill that was proposed by someone they don’t like. If that senator didn’t express their pettiness in the student senate, they would have surely expressed it somewhere else, probably in their dorm or in the classroom. This is perhaps Student Government’s greatest contribution to the Mason community: it makes sure that the ridiculous and toxic social situations that might otherwise involve regular students occur deep inside the HUB and Merten Hall, where they can’t hurt anybody.

But it’s important to remember that Student Government is about much more than having arguments. The group is given a budget and the power to decide how that budget is spent. Because of this, some believe that  Student Government is supposed to be a way for the student body to express its opinions through their representatives about what they think should be done with that money. However, the reason that Student Government has a budget is because the real government also has a budget, and  Student Government is supposed to replicate the real one.

Just as we give children plastic versions of real-life objects, we give Student Government a plastic version of a real-life budget. When we give a child a toy train, we hope that the joy of pushing it up and down the track and making “choo-choo” noises will inspire him to become an engineer. With tears in our eyes, we imagine that child all grown up, standing tall and proud at controls of a great locomotive. In the same way, we watch our Student Government playing pretend politics with its toy meetings and toy budgets, and we hope that one day they will become big and strong politicians.

Unfortunately, bullies have invaded the playground, insistent on ruining everyone else’s fun, teasing us with their taunts of “We should do actual work,” and “Aren’t we supposed to be doing this for the student body?”.

This is my plea to the Student Government: Don’t listen to those meanies. Don’t let the do-gooders and the pragmatists ruin the fun that you’re having pretending to be grown-up politicians.You tell them to go right on home, so you can get back to acting out your personal disagreements in front of everyone and having a great time doing it. Just keep that stuff far away from the rest of us.