Khanna: More Student Control Needed

    A.S. President Harry Khanna stressed the importance of student control and the need for structural reform during the second annual State of the Campus Address.

    Will Parson/Guardian
    A.S. President Harry Khanna stressed the need for more student oversight regarding campus issues in his Nov. 15 State of the Campus Address.

    However, Khanna also made it clear that his student government is currently unable to handle that degree of student control.

    “”Our campus does a very good job of making sure the students have input,”” Khanna said. “”But I think students … around the UC system would agree that it’s not just about having input on decisions; there are certain things that students should be able to make decisions on.””

    During the Nov. 15 event, all of the speakers highlighted the importance of shared governance. Such a system, which ideally splits control between the administration, faculty and students, allows for campus control of resources and activities.

    Guest speaker and UCSD Academic Senate Chair Henry C. Powell addressed the importance of a cooperative government system for the university, stressing its resulting richness of ideas.

    He compared the UC system to the governments of some European countries, which give their citizens substantial civic services but little direct control over such services.

    However, Khanna said UCSD’s current politics steer far from actually granting students power.

    “”The administration and the faculty do pretty well with shared governance,”” Khanna said. “”And then you look at students and you say, ‘Well, what do students really have here to represent shared governance?’ We can give a lot of advice and we have a certain level of influence, but we have no real purview or final say over anything.””

    Ideally, students should have the final word on the things for which they pay, Khanna said, particularly over facilities and student fees. He compared UCLA’s student government, which oversees facilities, to UCSD’s University Centers Advisory Board, pointing out that UCAB is comprised mostly of students and has influence over the use of university facilities.

    Some veteran professors and administrators have fought for control and guarded it fiercely — such as the faculty’s absolute control over grade assignments, he said. But since “”students don’t have decades,”” they must rely on the administrators to fight for students’ views each time a new crop arrives.

    In order to be ready for this type of power, Khanna said that there needs to be elected officials within the senate who can focus on all-campus issues, such as an all-campus baccalaureate, instead of being tied to the individual colleges.

    Members of the cabinet are currently lobbying such issues.

    Khanna also called for more accountability for elected A.S. officials. Such accountability is currently lacking, he said, because most councilmembers serve a single term, eliminating the need to garner votes for re-election.

    Additionally, Khanna wishes to create an elected position to which the A.S. cabinet would be accountable.

    This would allow accountability to occur on a real level while protecting elected officials from the constant scrutiny of the entire electorate, he said.

    “”It is clear in my mind that A.S. needs reform,”” Khanna said.

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