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Good night, and good luck

Nearly every year, as spring break approaches, an article appears in The Concordian bemoaning Student Government as visible only during election season. These laments continue describing the nonexistent authority of the organization, the executive team’s desire to be the administration’s pet for letters of recommendation and other critiques using sharp antiestablishment, hipster rhetoric. The sad part of these assertions is that there is a certain degree of truth associated with them.

So begins the tragedy of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who expect nothing and invest nothing get nothing and subsequently believe they were right all along. I find it tragically humorous that on a campus that prides itself in political participation and awareness, relishing the liberal arts as a conduit to thoughtful and informed engagement, so little student attention is paid to matters happening right here in our own backyard.

So Concordia, I leave Student Government with a request. You want a vibrant Student Government that “actually does something?” Demand one. Interested in sustainable investments? Explore where Concordia invests its endowment fund. Believe students do not have enough say in campus governance? Ask why the student body president (unlike NDSU) does not sit on the President’s cabinet to advocate for the interests of students.

Just as democratic participation entails more than voting, student participation in campus governance requires more than showing up at an open forum, torches and pitchforks in hand. Student Government is here, but it cannot do it alone; it needs your buy-in. If there is one thing I have learned leaving this place with a degree in education, it is that a student (in this case an organization) has a funny way of giving you exactly what you expect she will. Expect nothing, get nothing.

Why should you care? What can Student Government do? Here’s just a sample from this year:

  • Eliminated intervisitation restrictions

  • Approved a $43,000 weight room update proposal

  • Sponsored a variety of events, ranging from MLK Day to a welcome back slip n’ slide party

  • Provided $30,000 funding boost to Undergraduate Research; $20,000 to Olson Balcony

  • Launched a campus Bike Share program

  • Restructured Student Government to increase transparency and student decision making

  • Installed water bottle filling stations on Olson balcony, academic buildings; residence halls currently being explored

  • Provided a new printer in the Maize; currently examining printing practices to be environmentally and financially responsible

  • Reallocated Student Activity Fee; provided oversight for $750,000+ in student funding

  • Engaged students in 1-3-3-1 calendar proposal conversation, provided 16-page report to members of administration and Faculty Senate

It is time to look at responsible engagement inside out, starting with the community we interact with every day. Change does not occur overnight; it requires dedication to the institution, patience in the face of adversity and uncompromising integrity. To the student body, here is the torch. Run with it.

This letter was submitted by Levi Bachmeier ’14, Student Body President.

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