But why do most students feel this way?
Our Student Government Association can only change so much. After all, it’s an SGA, and not a Board of Trustees. It is relegated to responding to the wants of students—mostly those who live on campus.
They deal with bike programs, new restaurants and food trucks because the expensive and complicated projects of this campus are out of their control.
How can an SGA election be taken seriously when it can only make minor changes to campus? With a new government coming in each year, it’s no surprise the SGA mostly concerns itself with cosmetic changes to the University. A new restaurant here, a dorm visitation expansion there.
Unfortunately, it’s just the nature of Auburn’s system. Those who don’t get involved their freshman year because they have other priorities feel separate from the organization from then on. And as juniors and seniors, why should they care about additions to campus coming after they graduate?
SGA operates in the hills while 68 percent of Auburn’s students are in the valley. For many, they only feel exposed to SGA when crowds of cheery, shouting people in matching T-shirts press pamphlets and treats into their hands.
Then there are the campaigns. Candidates’ platforms this year ranged from changes to class registration to parking to new eateries in different parts of campus. All the ideas were good for Auburn in different ways. Some ideas were serious and demanded the attention of a different Auburn student—the nonvoting Auburn student. Other ideas were not serious, and it is these that drew the most votes.
We don’t dislike Owen Parrish. He’s been involved with SGA for a long time, he’s qualified, and we’re sure he’s going to deliver on his promises to students. However, his lengthy involvement with SGA is what informed his platform of shortsigted initiatives rather than lasting improvements.
There’s an enormous difference between frozen yogurt in the Village and a more sophisticated Career Center that will better prepare Auburn’s graduates for the real world. They’re all decent projects because they respond to the different wants and needs of students, but they just aren’t equal in value to the University.
New restaurants are relatively petty investments in the overall college experience, but students still voted for them. We think they’ll continue to vote for them.
What Auburn elected was a not-serious candidate for a not-serious organization, and no one should be surprised.