We can make a change through SGA – but it must be thoughtful

mental supportvia Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

Benz De Marshall Pierre | Staff Writer 

From the failed “Ceasefire Now!” movement, to the abysmal voting rates of the student body during SGA elections, and other notable dramatic moments that fell in between, these have been restless times. And of these notable novelties, some issues affecting students directly are not being allocated enough time. 

It’s always been my view that besides being an important civic exercise meant to instill students with the habit of self-rule, voting is also instrumental in giving people a voice in choosing whom they want to lead them. The low voter turnout, however, might mean that more than half of the student population does not see it the same way or simply did not care much. 

The historically close campaign we witness might mean that the campus is far more divided than we think. No one platform gained enough votes to win with a comfortable margin and talk of a runoff was also in the air. 

If there is no overwhelming enthusiasm for any of these parties, this surely indicates that it might be more difficult for them to advance their objectives.

It’s also quite telling to see that SGA elections sort of mirror national elections. The same staggering voter apathy and shamefully low turnout are plagues that us college students have not found a cure for. 

These restive times on campus also saw a movement whose aims are quite narrow, gain popularity and command our attention. 

I particularly believe that it’s noble to want to speak against morally reprehensible deeds, and I can’t think of any better place for debate to occur other than a university campus. But even the most compelling events should not divert our attention from other essential things. 

It’s only in vain that editorials have been written about things such as the elimination of DEI or our current housing crisis. These have sadly not moved the student body, and this is to our peril. 

We may not be aware of it but the end of DEI initiatives is a materialization of an extreme right-wing nonsense that was, till today, spoken rather than acted on. And it still defies my comprehension why we are failing to understand the depth of it. 

This is to say nothing of the housing crisis, which seems to have lost its political charm.

If the need to rectify what’s wrong is not being felt, nothing will change. 

“Ceasefire Now” , is a movement that cannot possibly be expected to change anything about the situation in Palestine. This is not because student protests have never been effective, but rather because I doubt its current scale is large enough to compel any politician to cater their actions to the gainsayers of the movement.

Furthermore, the US foreign policy apparatus has so far been tone deaf to the complaints about the mounting death toll in Palestine. 

Even Though President Biden promises food to the besieged Palestinians, the reluctance to denounce the tragedy and call back the Israeli war machine is palpable. 

There is also one key element that’s escaping the adherents of “Ceasefire Now”, it is that all resolutions are symbolic in nature. They are simply the articulation of a certain political stance, the collective sentiment of a body of individuals. Whether it’s passed by the US Congress or by SGA, it is not binding law. 

Surely, those who have shown unwavering determination in advocating for that cause must be fully aware how much change is possible through a resolution. It would then be expected that their actions reflect that reality, but the undying strength of their activism can mean nothing else but the contrary. 

Nonetheless, this in itself is not a problem. If college students want to manifest their frustration with a morally taxing issue by protesting, they should be welcome to do so. But when the obvious limits of a cause are being shown, reasonable expectations should follow at the risk of eclipsing other pressing issues affecting us students. And that’s what’s happening.

As might be suspected, I’m not downplaying the importance of keeping this issue alive at all. In fact, an entirely different article may be necessary to talk about the severity of the issue. 

But, the proponents of that movement have proven to be shortsighted in understanding that the issue is far beyond their power, and their insistence will bulldoze other problems that affect us panthers. 

This goes beyond this particular issue too – from YDSA to College Republicans, students with strong political feelings must understand that student government is a limited tool.

We should certainly use it as an arena for debate, discussion and change, but overplaying one’s hand with SGA is far worse than sticking to the limits it has. Beyond the FIU campus, SGA can be used to make a change – but it must be done so responsibly and thoughtfully. 

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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