Rubber stamped: The powerless state of DePauw Student Government

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Throughout our three years at DePauw we have seen the university undergo enormous change. Consider construction projects like the revamping of Anderson street, the Lily Center renovations, updates to the athletics campus and now the construction of Hoover Hall. Think of changes in the food service provider, risk requirements for registered parties, graduation requirements, tailgating locations and even winter term. These changes have largely been beneficial to the university; however, most of these changes weren’t prompted by students, the paying customers. Instead, it has often been the case that student concerns and interests have gone unaddressed in favor of policies and investments intended to make DePauw more attractive to potential students.

In 2010, the DePauw student government passed a white paper in favor of repealing the University’s ban on kegs. The paper argued that allowing kegs on campus would promote safer consumption of alcohol as it would deincentivize hard alcohol consumption, reduce aluminum waste and would allow for more effective risk management. While the administration is expected to evaluate and respond to all white papers passed by student government within 3-6 months, they never even addressed this issue. While we certainly believe kegs should be allowed on campus again, this issue is just another iteration of a more important problem: DePauw’s administration is insensitive to the concerns of its students.

Consider, for example, a more timely issue: the changes made to DePauw’s on-campus dining plans this year. According to the student body Vice President Katie Kondry, these changes were revealed to student government, not as a potential plan needing student input, but as a “finalized package that was developed without any student feedback.” The new system creates a virtual monopoly on student dining options for Bon Appetit, allowing meal swipes to be used only at their dining locations. As a result, students have fewer meal choices, and lower quality options. Additionally, the new meal plan offers no direct advantages for students. The only player seemingly benefiting from the new system is Bon Appetit itself.  

An online petition has garnered 669 signatures, which constitutes about 30 percent of the student population. When one considers the number of Greek students on campus (69 percent of the total population according to U.S. News and World) who are ostensibly unconcerned with the issue given their in-house meal plan, this number is extremely high. Yet, the administration shows no concern, failing to even address the issue this semester. Additionally, student concerns about mold in dorms and lead paint in university-owned apartments and houses have not been adequately addressed.

The one possible exception to this trend was the movement for inclusivity that culminated in the day of inclusion. Yet, despite seemingly strong administrative action on the matter, it took Ashton Johnston being published in the Huffington Post, almost a year of campus discussion and the relentless activism of many students to get the administration to act.

Whether student concerns are communicated through formal or informal channels, the administration has been sluggish and reluctant to even consider changes students want to see, let alone act upon them. DePauw student government has been rendered a rubber stamp of the administration and the student body’s voice has been effectively silenced.

 

-Terlep is a senior political science major from Naperville, Illinois; Piggins is a senior economics major from Saugatuck, Michigan.