Editorial: GSB senators failing to represent students

Editorial Board

The Government of the Student Body’s mission, according to its website, is “to strengthen students’ voices and enhance students’ experiences at Iowa State University through active representation, engagement and support.”

So far this year, the legislative component of GSB has failed to deliver on that mission. So far this year, no senator has proposed or debated anything of substance at either of the two meetings this semester.

By this time last year, five bills had been proposed, with one of those bills already being passed.

With those facts, it becomes hard to answer the question: What are the members of GSB doing for the students they were elected to represent? But as difficult as it may be to answer that question, with those facts, the asking is imperative.

Now, we fully admit that the dearth of legislation after a three-month summer rest, which senators could have used to bounce ideas off one another, could be due to a variety of factors

First, it could mean no student has any issues with the university, nor do any clubs or organizations need funding. However, with more than 31,000 students and 800 clubs, the chances of that reasoning being true is unlikely.

Second, the lack of legislation could be the result of GSB senators not effectively interacting with their constituents. According to GSB bylaws, senators must not only “make frequent efforts to communicate with their constituents,” but they also must “describe to their constituents and constituency councils all Government offices, committees and positions that are open to all students.”

If senators are not communicating with their constituents effectively, their constituents may not know they can change something about the university or request funding for their clubs through proposing a bill. This point leads into the final reason behind the lack of legislation proposals: Students may not know how they can utilize GSB to its fullest potential.

If students are unaware of how GSB can help them and their peers, they are much less likely to seek out their senators. Taking a step back, some students may not even know and/or care who their senators are or that GSB even exists.

GSB members should take part of the blame for not teaching their constituents how they can, as senators, help their constituents. However, students should also take responsibility for educating themselves on what GSB is and how it can help them. Constituents should be proactive in letting the government, on all levels, know of their concerns.

To have the most effective Government of the Student Body, GSB senators must work harder in connecting with their constituents and the student body must become more knowledgeable and less apathetic toward GSB.

If the members of GSB want to be part of a robust organization, they must be robust. Power exists only when it is exercised, and GSB is not some court that dispenses patronage and money when asked to do so. Making a difference requires activity driven by an ambition to serve, not by waiting and seeing.