The Santa Clara
April 20, 2017
It is easy for school elections to become popularity contests. They are often trivialized by the assumption that student leadership roles are less important than those of the administration.
However, this is a dangerous belief. The role of student leaders can greatly determine the quality of our lives here at Santa Clara. The impact of student leaders on campus culture goes beyond programs and events. We must remember this as we head into election season for the Associated Student Government (ASG).
We all chose to come to Santa Clara for different reasons, but we are here together nonetheless and deserve for our needs to be met.
The most meaningful way of engaging is by having students leaders that represent our values and can bring about the change we wish to see at our university.
ASG’s role goes beyond what some students assume. They determine the policies and initiatives they think best align with the needs of students at Santa Clara. These roles include deciding which organizations have the chance to become a registered student organization (RSO).
RSO status allows clubs to receive university recognition and funding from ASG. RSOs impact campus climate and the lives of students at Santa Clara, beyond the four years many of us spend here.
Recently, the administration overturned ASG’s decision to not grant RSO status to Turning Point USA. This decision was a complete overreach in power and showed the ability for the university to take power away from our student leaders. By doing so, the administration showed how fragile our power really is. This threatened the foundation of student leadership and set a dangerous precedent for the future.
If the administration could overturn a decision made by ASG, they could very well intervene in student affairs in the future.
This is a question I grappled with myself.
As a member of MEChA El Frente’s executive board, I was elected by student members and operate under the Multicultural Center, a completely student run and student elected Chartered Student Organization (CSO).
Every year, the MCC elects new students to its staff and each of the 10 RSOs that fall under the MCC are elected as well. We determine how this is done and who is elected, giving us true autonomy. In these roles, we have the power to impact the lives of students at Santa Clara and the greater community.
Our roles as student leaders often leave behind a legacy that has the power to truly impact the lived experiences of many students. While the administration’s decision to invalidate the power of ASG was disheartening and worrying, it is not reason to lose hope.
Being a student leader and surrounding myself with other student leaders in the MCC has given me a sense of purpose. Although at times, it seems as though we are fighting for the needs of students of color with no victory, it is worth it in the end.
We truly have the power to mobilize and make the changes we wish to see happen. It does not happen overnight, and at times, we will graduate before we see our dreams met. However, the knowledge that we are working towards improving the experiences of students at Santa Clara is enough to make it through.
This overreach of power was more reason for student’s to run for leadership positions and elect the correct candidates. We are currently in the midst of great change in our university.
The 2020 plan promises to expand the university, such as attracting more students, and tuition prices are on the rise. Student election are crucial to reassert our power and ensure that our voices are heard.
The voices of students of color have been largely dismissed or outright ignored, even in the face of several troubling acts of discrimination. The institution was not created with students of color in mind, and often times we are left feeling as though we are simply here to fulfill a diversity statistic or to be plastered on promotional material.
As student leaders, we have the opportunity to challenge this in order to make our voices heard. Home to many of these students is the MCC, in which director, associate director, and staff will be chosen in the next few weeks.
“The MCC Director and Associate Director are advocates for not only the MCC organizations, but advocates for every diversity and inclusion initiatives and issues on campus,” MCC director Isaac Nieblas said.
Unique to Santa Clara, the MCC is completely student run and is the umbrella CSO for 10 RSOs. For many students of color, these organizations are our communities and also have the opportunity to impact our lives here at Santa Clara.
“Strong leaders are needed in these positions,” Nieblas said. “Being the voice of a community is difficult, but one of the most rewarding experiences.”
The role of student leaders are not easy, but they are essential. After all, it is the students that are a foundation of the university and we are the ones that are here to learn and be shaped by this education.
Because of this, it is our duty to be engaged in the elections of these student leaders and vote for those that will guide us in the best path.
Don’t let the sunny weather make you forget the responsibility that we all have to engage in these student elections.
Veronica Marquez is a sophomore communication and ethnic studies major.
Articles in the Opinion section represent the views of the individual authors only and not the views of The Santa Clara or Santa Clara University.