SGA needs to end internal discord and work toward goals

By Sanah Rizvi

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SGA president Vinayak Rao speaks at the first meeting of the year. (Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

SGA president Vinayak Rao speaks at the first meeting of the year. (Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian)

An organization that prides itself on being a representative voice for about 20,000 students, the Student Government Association is home to an amazing range of students. Motivated, inspired and ambitious can only begin to describe the student body that prides itself in being a premier source for conflict resolution on the University of Massachusetts campus. With this highly accomplished student body as members, it’s inevitable that a struggle for power emerges – and it does, swiftly and brutally. The SGA is home to politics, cliques and, as much as we would like to deny it, it is rife with some incredibly bitter rivalries that are swept under the rug only to mount up an inch at a time.

When one is in the SGA long enough, one sees there is a constant struggle for power. The “need” to lead, to be heard, to be “the” go-to person coupled with a desire to bring forth swift change and be remembered for that change is one that is constantly crippling.

While most individuals are working tirelessly toward more diversity, a safer campus, better campus facilities and greener technology, some individuals are too engrossed in hypothesizing plans to reconstruct the SGA, and others are too busy implementing 18thcentury motions. SGA individuals busy themselves with just trying to stand out, but leave no one to pick up the pieces.

With this struggle for power emerges an important, often unanswered question: Who will follow? With every individual, either pro-SGA or anti-SGA, struggling so hard to have their voices heard, to make changes to better suit themselves, to be “liked,” it’s no surprise that the SGA is under fire by its peers and members.

Fundamentally, the SGA is a force. It’s a student organization that is compelled by nature of its existence to put others before themselves. The struggle for power is real and so is the desire to improve and change the lives of students.

The members of the SGA, are supposed to tirelessly work to attain better goals, to maintain respect for diversity on campus, to value opinions, to share a bond and most importantly, put students at a forefront where their voices are heard and acted upon, not merely nodded at and ignored.

The problem here is not the dearth of ideas but the lack of consistent effort. Though the SGA’s motives seem to be driven toward student betterment, the dirty office politics (some of which often spill over in this section of the newspaper) are holding the SGA back. The constant need to stand out and be the inventor is costing the SGA leadership more than just a bad reputation The SGA is losing time, resources, and of course, respect among its peers.

Some may disagree with me but the SGA doesn’t ‘need’ to be reconstructed. It needs goals to be accomplished. The SGA doesn’t “need” a moral code. It needs to rekindle respect. The SGA doesn’t “need” better organization. It needs better representation. The idea is simple: if you don’t like something, be a part of the solution.  Then, maybe, the SGA will work toward better solutions. Maybe it’s time for the SGA to be fearless, driven and accomplished for the students they represent, not just themselves.

Sanah Rizvi can be reached at [email protected]