Who is to Blame? A look at Doomed Student Initiatives

Why is it so easy for student-led initiatives to fail? There is rampant popularity for online sign-in, a multi-purpose ID card and improvements to the GW Lounge, but all these initiatives have apparently failed. For all the planning and hard work, few plans bear actual fruit. Should we blame our elected student officials, some “evil administration” that delights in denying students faster toasters or something different? For all the ideas, hard work and receptive faculty involvement, nothing popular and meaningful gets done. Who is responsible for the decrepit state of our government? It is not fair to condemn the students we elect for not getting things done. While we elect them, we elect them for the wrong reasons and with the wrong impressions. Instead of voicing our real needs and rallying around important causes, we elect candidates because they crack jokes and make vague promises regarding simple material rewards. Every election is another chance to see posters promising later sign-in, more freedoms, better food, and new electronic contraptions, but within two weeks, we no longer care. We encourage candidates to engage in an ever-increasing “cold war” of ambiguous promises and elect the candidate with the biggest and boldest dreams. But do we hold these officials responsible when we get nothing? We cannot blame students who devote their already precious time to government for failing to get meaningful change enacted, when their “constituents” do not seem interested in any form of significant change. An even more platitudinous and obvious group to blame is the administration. It is always “the man” holding the students down. Whenever some idea fails to materialize, we do not fault a lack of interest, a lack of effort or a lack of a distinct plan, but rather some cold-hearted administrator who pleasures in the students’ suffering. The only reason the administration is not always welcome to student initiatives is because they have real issues to resolve. An already busy administration, attempting to sensibly run a school, has no time to worry about the grave danger the lack of sufficiently speedy toasters poses to the breakfast habits of the student body. The administration would surely pay attention if students were mobilized, students were vocal, and students were willing to make sacrifices. At the moment, this is merely a dream. Of real consequence to the state of our decrepit system are the foundations of the system itself. The student council and various other student bodies have no obvious means of dealing with the trivial problems. If the administration does not feel that certain problems are worth its scrutiny, then leave such problems to the students. Give the students the power, the money and the responsibility to deal with them. Then the students can only blame themselves for inaction. In addition, there are seemingly too many steps involved in enacting reform. There are too many committees, administrators, councils and such that are required to sign off on ideas. Abolish the red tape and make things simple and straightforward. We can, in large part, thank our circumstances for spawning our ineffective system. Everyone already has too much on his or her plate: academics, sports, clubs, community service and their own personal lives, leaving little room to devote to grandiose hopes and dreams. Toasters, even fast ones, are not worth sacrificing sleep time over. In a bigger picture, students are only around for four years, and by the time they have gathered enough experience and enough motivation toward change, they have graduated. With a maximum of four years to act, even the simplest misstep can throw off the best plans. Therefore, we have no right to criticize an administration that doesn’t take our ideas seriously when we get worked up over toasters and long walks to the grocery store, but barely respond to important decisions by the administration and do nothing to voice our will. Where are our petitions, our protests, our signs and our sit-ins? We complain about problems and claim to want to change them but are unwilling to devote time to fix them. We cannot and will not be taken seriously. Until we do something, stand for something, and accomplish something, our system is doomed to forever be a joke.