Scrolling Headlines:

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball fills holes left by seniors with freshmen for 2017 -

February 23, 2017

The Hart of the Lineup -

February 23, 2017

UMass softball prepares for a long, busy season in 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defenseman Tyler Weeks makes his way back from ACL injury -

February 23, 2017

From Argentina right back to the SGA elections

The University of Buenos Aires (UBA) has approximately 300,000 students, 134 different colleges, 11 campuses spread across the city, counts 14 presidents of Argentina since 1890 as its alumni and is completely free.

It is managed by a massive and disorganized bureaucracy, one which allowed a friend of mine to enroll in a class two months into the semester because someone “left the system open.”

The school of Ciencias Sociales, where I take my courses, is a famed hotbed of Political activism. Noted graduate Che Guevara peeks down from murals on the school’s walls between thousands of fliers advocating hundreds of different political causes. They’re against the recent coup in Honduras, against the development of U.S. military bases in Colombia, against the Argentine president, for the imprisonment of the former Buenos Aires Chief of Police. Pretty much any and every cause imaginable takes up real estate on any free visible space in the building, creating a mish-mash poster fire hazard of epic proportions.

Waiting between classes, among people freely taking a cigarette in the industrial-looking building, it is fairly common to be approached by people flyering for their respective causes. An earnest and persistent group of students, it is also common during the first 10, even up to 30 minutes (that is if class starts within 30 minutes), for them to enter and flyer in classes.

Last week, I was sitting in class eating an alfajor (a fantastic Argentine cookie cake with a caramel-like substance called dulce de leche in the middle) waiting for the already 20-minutes late teacher to arrive when five or more groups came in one after the other for different causes. This rate was even higher than normal.

I then realized that the hallway fire hazard was on a significantly grander scale. Also, posters had started showing up on classroom walls. I took a closer look and realized that each set of posters belonged to different political parties within the school. I was in the middle of the every-few-years or so school election season.

At UBA, students and teachers run political parties together ranging through a wide spectrum of beliefs. The combined slates bring students into leadership positions within student services and bring faculty into department leadership positions.

Student services include selling assigned photocopied readings – teachers assign packets of the specific readings expected of students – at 50 percent of the independent vendors, a variety of student-run food businesses, book stores, academic advising and a council that meets with faculty over academic requirements. All of these are done with the cooperation and assistance of the faculty.

The night of the elections, I returned to my campus to see the school’s famed political activism at its most fevered pitch. Crowds lined the street campaigning for every one of the parties. The entrance was obscured behind the posters of groups that completely disregarded decorum. A line stretched through the halls of people waiting to vote. Everyone was captivated and aware that the future of their school was decided by their choice.

This spirit of political activism and academic freedom made the University the target of many of Argentina’s brutal military regimes during the Cold War. The University has stood as one of the most important institutions in the country since its founding; a massive monument to the liberating power of education.

What drives the leaders of UBA are higher goals than political platforms. There is a universal devotion on the part of the people to the advancement of education. Even across party lines, faculty, students and administrators cooperate as custodians of an essential piece of Argentina. Petty political differences fall by the side in favor of a universal appreciation of an institution that gives all involved so much.

Student Government is limited by the creative approaches taken towards it and by the passion of the students that it represents.

Today and tomorrow are the University Massachusetts senate elections. A large group of passionate and talented student leaders are running this fall and if you can take five minutes to vote, five minutes to show that you do care about more than just drinking and getting a degree, but you truly care about the quality of your experience – you might just end up surprised by the results. Or at least, you will have stood up to say that you do care about the place where you’re spending four of the most important years of your life.

As for those lucky enough to be chosen by their peers, the powers of a government are only limited when it pursues one mindset. UBA has existed as a flexible institution, tacking and jibing to survive through the chaotic politics of Cold War Latin America. Additionally, the power of the students has come through cooperation and the pursuit of common causes with the rest of the school body, faculty and administrators. Everyone has the same goal, to make their school the greatest it can be. And with everyone together, the goal can truly triumph.

Michael Fox is a Collegian columnist.  He can be reached at mgfox@student.umass.edu.

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