Can SGA candidates really deliver?

The Student Government Association elections are next week. Since Monday, when campaigning officially commenced, students have been bombarded with Facebook page “like” requests, campus mail flyers (that will very quickly end up in the trash), and the visual displeasure of tacky and unnecessary advertising plastered throughout campus buildings.

For the candidates, this is their time to illuminate “differences” between themselves and try to convince the greater student body that they are ultimately best equipped not only to follow through on their trite campaign promises but to “honor the Cobber legacy” or put “students first” or help the campus “move forward.”

Sounds great, right?

In reality, however, none of these campaign slogans and promises really matter because SGA’s “power” is unavailing. SGA candidates quite simply do not know what they are getting into — and if they do, they are not being as transparent as they promise.

First, it should be noted how out of touch every candidate appears to be while campaigning. At the time this article was written, two campaigns released video bios on their respective Facebook pages. In the videos, candidates appear to be reading off a script, promising to be the best advocates for students and share their entirely unoriginal platform goals: eliminate inter-visitation, extend building hours, make the campus more sustainable.

Here is the problem: these platform goals have been the same for the past several SGA elections, a sign not only that their ideas are uninspired and conventional but not accomplishable.

In last year’s election, inter-visitation was the big issue. The candidate (who ultimately won) pledged to eliminate the outdated policy. And what happened? A committee was formed and after several months of surveying and talking with students, a proposal was drafted advocating just that.

But, like everything else SGA submits or proposes, it has to get approved by a more important body: the Concordia administration. Ultimately, if they do not want to approve the proposal, they can put a kibosh on the project immediately, making all of the work SGA has done a waste of time. And what will SGA members do if all of the proper avenues for submitting a proposal that would affect all students (surveying, holding town halls, meeting with staff members) were followed?

Simply put, their power is limited. While the candidates may promise things, like eliminating inter-visitation or “reviewing” the core curriculum, it is out of their hands.

Cobbers have a short memory. Many are wooed by the campaign promises and platform goals of SGA candidates. Yet it is imperative for Concordia’s students to remember that power does not reside within SGA alone, but in the student body’s collective voice. If students solely rely on SGA to represent them (as the administration prefers), few things can truly be accomplished.

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Matt Hansen

Matt Hansen, a fourth-year student, writes The People's Republic of Matt, a politics column in Opinions. He double majors in political science and sociology at Concordia. On Twitter: @MattHansen

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Spot on, Matt, and a very good final point.

    The SGA is basically an internship for the students that get elected. It’s a fine opportunity to score some points with the administration, and leave Concordia with good references.

    Concordia follows a standard Chain of Command for private colleges. On the top you’ll find the donors with a significant Concordia legacy or large donations, which exercise their influence through the Board of Regents, which ultimately has the final say in most Concordia matters.

    The SGA – being the last bureaucratic organ on the bottom of the command chain – can never be as powerful as an informed, independent and engaged student body.

  2. Avatar

    Spot on, Matt, and a very good final point.

    The SGA basically an internship for the students that get elected. It’s a fine opportunity to score some points with the administration, and leave Concordia with good references.

    Concordia follows a standard Chain of Command for private colleges. On the top you’ll find the donors with a significant Concordia legacy or large donations, which exercise their influence through the Board of Regents, which ultimately has the final say in most Concordia matters.

    The SGA – being the last bureaucratic organ on the bottom of the command chain – can never be as powerful as an informed, independent and engaged student body.

  3. Avatar

    A very well-written, provocative piece.

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