SGA member responds to criticism

Tom Hyde - Staff Writer

In hopes of involving more voices in the growing debate over the purpose of the Student Government Association, I would like those who have criticized the organization to first research the facts before publishing works that undermine the esteem and mission of any college newspaper.
That having been said, I think that there are many on SGA, including myself, who agree with many of the positions taken by the writers over the past weeks. Issues like the role of student programming, lack of substantive campaigns and public relations failures by the organization are some of the many problems that the new members are working on this year.
Personal attacks and insults are not warranted, however, so I must revisit some of the more slanderous accusations made against our membership before I address the probability of policy change.
Sean Hughes’ article that condemns members of Student Government as being only popular and less intelligent than himself has several fundamental flaws.
First, the SGA is comprised of some of the most intellectual visionaries that I have ever known. Perhaps in Hughes’ generalizations, he did not think of Lianna Hartford, an amazing leader who balances several key positions and maintains an almost perfect grade point average.
There are also over a dozen members with double majors in some of the most challenging academic disciplines that this school can offer. Not to mention that the majority of the membership, like me, take their work quite seriously and can often be found having philosophical discussions in and out of the classroom.
Secondly, judgment of the members’ intellect should not only be measured by grade point averagess, but should also take into account the social intelligence it takes to be able to communicate with others well enough to hear and voice their concerns and ask for and win votes.
As a future political leader, Mr. Hughes should know that politicians need to be able to communicate with the public without being aloof and arrogant. The rhetoric that was spouted about idealism and political apathy is indicative of a lack of involvement with everyday students who do not necessarily take interest in politics or the business of the SGA.
We do try to spread idealism and values of inclusion and democracy, but it is not as easy as one might think. I have written in the school newspaper, attended dozens of conferences over the years and I have an informed opinion about the judgments I have made about our student government.
Joe Reynolds did not know that the SGA holds public debates every year, despite the fact that the newspaper covers them! Sean Hughes criticizes the SGA for being exclusive and then has the audacity to write that we are not intellectual enough for his taste.
I love the fact that we are able to openly discuss the role of the SGA. I, too, believe in the value of a flourishing democracy and will happily take part in a healthy, inclusive debate. I truly admire any person who has the tenacity and gumption to challenge his or her government. But to any person in this university who wants to make their criticisms uninformed and personal and not substantive, your attacks will not be taken lying down.
SGA’s inability to reach out to the public in the past in a way that is meaningful and significant is something that I take issue with. At our annual retreat this year, we set a tone of renewing the enthusiasm within our organization.
In subsequent articles in The Chronicle, I look forward to discussing key areas of the SGA policy that need to be addressed. There are real issues on this campus that need to take precedence to squabbling between the Executive Board of SGA and the school newspaper. If we are truly idealists, we should work together to promote the common good, incorporating every opinion, and taking especially those in the minority into account.