Get rid of unnecessary entities – like GSB

Bryan Nichols

Recently, in my philosophy class, we discussed Occam’s Razor. For those of you not familiar with this, Occam’s Razor is a simple postulate: Do not multiply entities beyond necessity. This argument can be applied to a number of things. In my case, I’d like to apply it very specifically to delete one particular unnecessary entity. I think we should disband our Government of the Student Body.Now I know this sounds revolutionary, but I don’t think we’d miss GSB. Remember in elementary school when you had student council elections? The popular kids won. Whether it was because they promised everyone would get chocolate milk at lunch or recess twice a day, or just because they were popular, they won. I didn’t care that much, because they didn’t do anything.I have pretty much the same opinion on GSB. I guess the level of discourse may have improved enough so that we no longer see the popular kids winning, if there are popular kids in college. Either way, I’d say GSB is useless. With GSB elections coming up in two weeks, I think now is the time to talk about this fact. Think about it for a second. Ask yourself what GSB does. OK, time’s up. Any ideas? If you can’t think of any, don’t be too surprised. I don’t imagine most others can, either.In fact, at least to the outside observer, I’d say GSB seems to do very little. They distribute student activity fees. That’s their main job, and I guess it’s an important one. They do have other jobs, such as lobbying the Board of Regents for lower tuition and running their own elections and business.So how can we eliminate an organization that has such important jobs? After all, they represent us, the students. Or do they?See, this is where I begin to really question the need for GSB. If anyone remembers last year’s elections, GSB election officials were overjoyed by the huge voter turnout. If I remember correctly, that turnout was just above 10 percent of the student body. How is this any sort of representative government?I’d say this kind of low voter efficacy is always more of a symptom than a cause. If the other 90 percent of people believed that GSB was important, they would probably vote too. The fact that they did not says something. Let me speculate as to what.For example, every year GSB lobbies the Board of Regents for lower tuition. Every year, the regents do exactly what they want. Last year, tuition was raised almost 10 percent. Do you think GSB could have stopped that even if U of I hadn’t backed out?GSB is powerless. It’s a figurehead. The administration keeps GSB around because it gives the illusion of students having a voice without actually requiring students to have a voice.Take a look around. Did GSB have a say in who became our new president? Does GSB ever have a say in matters of tuition? Can GSB do anything contrary to what the ISU administration or the regents want and make a difference? I don’t think so.So, what’s our alternative? I have a plan: First, form some sort of committee in charge of allotting student fees. If student groups meet the requirements for the fees, they should get them. I’m relatively sure this is how it works now but without all the red tape. Next, when we have issues such as the current bus pass issue, rather than having a GSB vote, let’s have a vote of the entire student body. Everyone can vote online. We don’t need representative government (or the illusion of) when everyone can be equally heard.Last, and most importantly, if students want a voice in what goes on at Iowa State, rather than assuming someone will speak for them, they should do it themselves. What’s going to affect the regents more, 40 people marching on the capitol or 4,000 writing in that they’ll transfer if tuition is raised? What are the Iowa legislators going to do if 25,000 people write letters demanding that education cuts are not passed? I bet the cuts won’t get passed.I’m not advocating apathy here; I’m advocating activism. Iowa State is the perfect size — small enough that everyone can have their voices heard but large enough where all of us can actually make a difference. Don’t assume GSB is doing anything. Do it yourself, and it will get done. The important thing here is this: A student government supposedly for us that is elected by a couple thousand people (maybe) is not a voice for us. It’s an ineffectual, self-important figurehead that creates an environment of complacency that allows the administration and the regents to run rampant over the interests of students. It’s an unnecessary entity. And you remember what Occam’s razor says about those.Bryan Nichols is a senior in Genetics from Burnsville, MN.