Much to my surprise, it appears that the Western Student Association, WMU' s student government, has actually achieved some positive results recently. In particular:
WSA Vice-President Drew Hooley wrote a resolution asking that the hours of operation of the Bernhard Center's Bronco Mall be extended. The resolution was passed overwhelmingly by the senate. Following this, the administration changed the Bronco Mall's hours to be open all night on weekdays.
WSA President Mandy Grove wrote a resolution asking that the limit on the number of pages printed per student per semester be increased to 500 from 250. After heated debate and several amendments, the resolution was passed. The department that runs many of the computer labs on campus made the requested change.
WSA Vice-President Drew Hooley presented concerns to the administration about library hours. WMU's library previously had the fewest hours of operation of any major university in Michigan. The administration recently increased the hours on Sunday through Friday significantly.
None of these may count as "big issues," but little issues like these affect the quality of a student's experience on campus. Besides, I wouldn't trust the WSA to decide American foreign policy anyways.
The WSA has very little power, and that's a good thing. It seems that the WSA is at its best when it stays away from issues that it can't do anything about (Iraq, the minimum wage), and focuses on issues that affect Western. The WSA can't decide these issues by itself, but it can relay students' concerns to the administration. It can't make the administration do something it doesn't want to do, but it can raise issues that the administration is not aware of.
Of course, a key to making this happen is having an administration that cares about the concerns of students. The previous administration simply didn't do this. Interim President Haenicke has turned around the university.
Don't get me wrong. The WSA still wastes time and money. I have criticized the notion of "student government" before. But at least now it has achieved some positive results.