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.
I agree that the most positive thing that WSA does is its resolutions. The SAF funded events are simply a waste of our students' money. I am on the Allocations Committee and see the rediculous things that are funded. If an event is not worth the student paying $5.88 (the amount of the SAF that is given to WSA) to attend, why should we then have other students paying the cost for the few that do attend? It makes no sense to me. If an event costs $x/student to fund and they cannot get students to pay $x/student to attend it, then obviously the cost of the event is not worth the benefit to the students. I remain viewpoint-neutral about the evens I deliberate on, however I am still amazed about the gross waste of our students' money.
The WSA should remained focused as being a voice of the student body, which it does effectively, getting results.
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