Things To Act
Friday, March 26, 2004
 
The DU Investigates BYUSA
Strangely, the series of articles hasn't been too off-puttingly bad so far. Of course, since it's the DU, there's no particular reason to trust the reporting, but what the heck.

This article reports that BYUSA is considering adding a VP position for city relations. "If the proposal passes, the liaison will work with the city council on issues like parking south of BYU campus, zoning, booting and house party permits." It's not that I think that any of those issues are unsolvable without student input, but I tend to think that if we're going to pretend to have a student government, we might as well give it actual work to do, and I can think of bigger wastes of time than keeping students and the city informed about each others' activities.

Speaking of uselessness, according to this article, most people in BYUSA feel powerless, except for those deep enough in denial to think that further protestation will help. "she made up a long list on yellow butcher paper to remind them of all their accomplishments. The list includes items like: "BYU Bookstore censorship -- anti-Mormon material removed," "SAC retreat -- unity" and "research on credit/debit cards in Cougareat." " Good thing we've got SAC, or the Bookstore might go uncensored!

This article, though it serves as an example of how bad DU 'journalism' gets, actually contains some potentially useful information. "In fact, while each BYUSA sponsored club is required to do a service project, most of the student community service involvement is handled by the Student Center for Service and Learning [formerly the Jacobsen Center]." In other words, BYUSA doesn't actually coordinate pure service.

"Instead, BYUSA focuses itself in four areas, Campus Activities [most of what students see as BYUSA: Battle of the Bands, Spring Fling, the Unforum, etc.], Public Relations [press releases, retreats and in-house relations], Clubs, and SAC [the Student Advisory Council and other forums for student concerns]."

Campus activities: nice, if you like that sort of thing, I suppose, though hardly central to the mission of the university. I'm not sure why we need elections to 'legitimize' the authority of the self-appointed people who like to organize this sort of thing, particularly since a significant portion of the student body is indifferent to each of the listed activities.

Public Relations: Er, since when have retreats and in-house relations been part of service, anyway? Evidently, the student "service" organization spends one of its four missions purely on itself.

Clubs: Again, not sure why we need elections to handle administering official clubs, particularly given the bad job they do of it. More below.

SAC: The article above doesn't give a terribly flattering picture, though I suppose this is one of the least objectionable parts.

The common theme seems to be that none of BYUSA's four areas of focus are actually the sorts of things that elected student governments are needed to do. In fact, I suspect that most of these activities would either thrive just fine absent the bureaucracy of BYUSA, or would be done more efficiently if the administration assigned/appointed students to manage them, rather than relying on farcial elections.

These two articles explore the "Clubs" dimension. The gist is that most clubs the DU talked to seem to hate BYUSA, because of silly bureaucratic nonsense and outright stupidity (such as clubs being rejected for being "too scholarly" or "too progressive"). I can almost understand this mindset, as I suspect that it stems from BYU's image-consciousness. I can accept that BYU wants to be seen as politically neutral, culturally conservative, peacefully noncompetitive (except in NCAA sports, which is a separate rant), and not too greedy for student money (except during CTG week, see rants below). I just think that this desire may be taken too far, as I think that valuable educational and social benefits might come from clubs that organize students who want to be politically or socially active, or compete in nonsports endeavors. If some students have weird and/or embarrassing ideas, not allowing them to organize won't change that, while allowing them to organize might expose their foolishness and prevent others from making the same mistakes. And if we really don't trust students to be able to resist solicitations of cash-strapped clubs if they can't afford them (except during carefully approved fundraising windows), our educational problems go far deeper than I thought. I think the problem may be that BYU sees any club organized on campus as officially representing the un

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