Yet again, Student Government has found itself at the center of vitriol and rancor. From impeachments to resignations, the organization has become both a lightning rod and a regular eyesore for students – as well as the University more broadly.
Earlier in April, a proposed resolution was introduced in the Student Senate which calls “for the immediate removal and barring of Turning Point USA from Texas State University.”
Turning Point USA is a conservative organization with a student chapter at Texas State. Opponents of the TPUSA allege that it promotes intolerance. Supporters of the group say that they’re being unfairly targeted because of their conservative beliefs.
It’s important to emphasize that the Senate proposal is a resolution. A resolution merely “represent[s] the interests of the students to the administration.”
A resolution is just a wish list. As a non-binding document, it compels neither students nor university officials to do anything. The University further confirmed this limited power in part of a statement it released: “Student Government, on its own, does not have the authority to bar a recognized student organization at Texas State.”
In fact, Student Government doesn’t have much authority at all on campus. At some universities, their student government is tasked with overseeing the entire budget generated from student service fees. At other universities like Texas State, student government is trusted with only a small fraction of that money while university officials handle the bulk of it. Some of the largest student government budgets exceed millions of dollars. By contrast, Texas State’s manages a paltry $77,000. Being trusted with more control over the budget improves the stature and authority of student government. This was an issue that past leaders of the Texas State Student Government were working to change.
I joined Student Government in 2013 and served as a Senator, Cabinet Executive, Supreme Court Justice, and a Student Rep. on multiple university committees. During my first year, Student Government hired a consulting firm to study how we functioned and to offer suggestions for improvement. The result was a comprehensive report that initiated a sweeping overhaul of the organization. This meant expanding marketing, administration initiatives, and student outreach. We succeeded in revamping the structure when our new constitution was ratified by a university-wide student vote. We then passed the proverbial baton on to the next generation of student representatives to build on what we started.
It seems that all our good work was squandered.
This time last year, Student Body President Connor Clegg was impeached when racially insensitive social media posts surfaced. Shortly thereafter, allegations of unreported campaign donations by TPUSA ultimately led to the resignation of a Student Body President Brooklyn Boreing.
The tumult has not gone unnoticed off-campus either. Headlines of “racism,” “under-the-table election money,” and “impeachment” capture the attention of readers across the state. Most recently even the Governor of Texas himself has tweeted about the latest fiasco. Drawing the ire of the most powerful government official in Texas is not what we had in mind when we envisioned a stronger Student Government. Is it any wonder then why university officials have made no movement to trust the organization with increased responsibilities?
Students across the political spectrum should bemoan the continuous embarrassment of Student Government. Student Government representatives are only harming the organization by publicly fighting over resolutions that will ultimately have no effect anyway.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether this TPUSA resolution eventually succeeds or fails. Left or right, conservative or liberal, win or lose – the damage is done.
By weakening Student Government, we have all already lost.
Hunter D. Schuler, post-baccalaureate applied math senior