Rabble Rousing About the Shuttles

    More than the service changes, the thing that has caught my attention was my expectation that A.S. Council would somehow avert the whole situation. After all, we’ve known for quite a while that Transportation Services has been slowly rolling toward a financial collapse. Twenty of our 28 elected A.S. Council members were voted in on a slate platform centered on resolving the transportation issue. The real question is how and why the Facebook group “UCSD Students against Transportation Changes” still exploded to nearly 7,000 members. Presumably, there should never have been the need for the UCSD Guardian to run a front-page article titled “Protests on the Horizon.”

    My take is that despite lofty campaign promises, Council often can’t live up to students’ expectations. Council can’t lower tuition, reinstate one-pass enrollment or bring back Tupac. Instead, council is only given voting power to amend internal bylaws, hire staff internally, pass budget allocations, put forward non-binding statements, sign contracts and approve referendums. That’s not a trivial list, but with the way A.S. Council is situated within the university’s bureaucracy, it can’t call most of the shots we wish it could.

    In her campaign, our A.S. president promised to “proactively” collect student input to help resolve the transportation budget crisis with a student-friendly solution. Yet Transportation Services isn’t directly under A.S. Council’s control, so regardless of whom we elect to council, Transportation Services is going to make its own decisions to sort out its budget — even if that means sparking student outrage.

    To be clear, I’m not conducting one of the many bands in the “A.S. sucks parade.” A.S. Council isn’t destined to fail at doing what we elect it to do. Real impacts on student life can be made using A.S. Council, and changes made to improve the body are easily institutionalized. Hell, look at the potential from the Division-I vote Alyssa Wing brought forward. Yet what an A.S. candidate promises by no means implies they’ll succeed if they’re promising initiatives outside council’s control.

    Our student body should be more skeptical of A.S. candidates with murky promises like political activism or a non-lame King Triton statue outside Price Center. The most substantial changes are only made by administration. But if someone is serious about reforming A.S. Council and streamlining the budget, he or she might actually have a shot of using the institution to be effective. Until election rhetoric is toned down — or until the administration returns services like transportation to student control — council will only serve to fuel student indignation at the university.

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