Op-ed: It’s time to eliminate class councils at AU
Vote ‘yes’ on Questions 1 and 2 during SG Elections, argues Kevin Michael Levy.
Hi, I'm Kevin Michael Levy, President of the Senior Class. Now, I know that sounds like a pretty big achievement, but let me promise you: It is not.
I was elected to this seat with a whopping three votes. There are four seniors in my apartment; one of them didn't even vote for me. How is it possible that I was elected class president at one of the most politically active schools in the country with three votes? Because, at American University, the class councils are made up and its powers don't mean anything.
I'm an International Relations and Arab World Studies major with a minor in Arabic serving as President of the Class of 2016, and my job is to promote class unity. But I’m no programmer, and neither are most class council officers. In our freshman year, we wanted to get involved and engaged on campus. Most people interested in student government run for the Undergraduate Senate (I did!), but some join the Freshman Class Council, excited by the grandness. After a few weeks, they realize the ominous truth: the job means nothing.
Traditionally, the class councils have had two purposes: raise funds for the class gift and promote class unity by programming events. Neither of these functions are accomplished by the class councils anymore. And with positions that do nothing for the students, it's time to get rid of them.
This year, I'll be arranging an event to provide the seniors a last send-off during finals week. The date? Provided by AU. The parameters? Provided by AU. The funds? Provided by YOUR student activity fee.
Don't get me wrong: I'm going to throw a good event because I've been working closely with Jack Fitzpatrick, the SG Vice President. But if everything is being decided by the University, don't you think they should foot the bill, too?
Finally, there's a common misconception that the senior class gift is funded and provided by the Senior Class Council/President. Here's the bad news: That's not true. The University has established the Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow Committee in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. They employ a student (read: pay a student) to solicit money (read: in addition to tuition) from graduating seniors, just months away from our first student loan payments.
The Student Government has several programming organizations that are much better equipped to host events that promote student unity at American University. The Student Union Board under Tam Sackman has brought stellar acts to campus this year. The Kennedy Political Union wowed crowds with Bill Nye and will bring Wonk of the Year, Donna Brazile, to campus next week.
The University is infinitely better at leeching money from students than I am, and the professionals in the Office of Alumni Relations know how to fundraise where the class council officers do not.
I ask you, my fellow students (and soon-to-be fellow graduates!), to join me in voting YES on Questions 1 and 2 on your Student Government ballot on Tuesday, March 22. Abolish class councils so that YOUR money can go where YOU want it!
Fire me on Tuesday!
Kevin Michael Levy is a senior in the School of International Service and the Class of 2016 President.