In this letter to the editor, Alex Rickard, former Director of Marketing and Vice President Internal for Warren College Student Council presents his take on the current state of A.S and student councils. Letters to the Editor do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of the UCSD Guardian.
Saturday’s Letter to the Editor asserting that the Associated Student council is not doing enough for the students reflects a position on student government that completely misrepresents the reality of working in student government at UC San Diego. Though the letter mainly talks about the BOLD slate’s campaign spending, it misplaces frustration with the council in regard to what the administration allows them to do. As someone who has spent a large chunk of my college career trying to work within the broken system, I can say firsthand that rather than blaming Associated Students for any frustrations with student fees, criticisms should be directed at the UCSD administration for failing the students.
In the year and a half I spent as the Warren Council Director of Marketing and Vice President Internal, the biggest obstacle I encountered when trying to do my job was none other than non-student staff designated to support the council. My biggest undertaking (alongside others) was the establishment of three student murals in the Warren College residential area. In an ideal world, this project would have taken three months from start to finish. Instead, the project lasted 18 months from Spring 2018 to Fall 2019. Throughout the entire process, our faculty advisor and other administrators stonewalled us and dragged their feet constantly. This included such memorable moments as forgetting to buy any white paint (and then not using our allocated budget to ever buy any) and asking me to commute to campus to carry a paint bucket 50 feet. At every step of the journey, administrators encouraged us to downsize the scale of the project because it meant less work for them. These adults are designated as support staff for the council yet make no effort to support student initiatives. Our project was completed in spite of them rather than because of them.Throughout the entire process, the students were the ones that had to deal with the criticism that came from the constant delays and struggles. Saturday’s letter shows the same desire to blame the scapegoated students rather than those truly at fault.
Largely due to the fact that it felt like the students were shouldering the burden of the administrative work in addition to their own, I ended up resigning from the council. In my experience, the members of the administration are more concerned with finding excuses to have catered meals than with trying to support the students that pay for those meals. Students are left to their own devices to figure out how their position works from scratch without the proper institutional support. This also extends to the higher level of the Associated Students professional support staff and the organizations they work with. The administration expects the student government to be a figurehead that does not try to enact change and resists any effort by the students to do what they were elected to do. From the various Facebook posts and Instagram stories cataloguing the huge amount of effort that the members of Associated Students have put into student benefit initiatives during this crisis, we know that they are doing their best with what they have. The weight of the blame should be placed on the administration for failing to support both the Associated Students council and the student body as a whole.
I realize that this letter reads as a rant about the ineffectiveness of the administration rather than a true response to Saturday’s letter about Associated Students. My experience represents an example of the frustrations that any member of UCSD student government knows well, frustrations that should not be inherent to the system that we rely on.
As voting opens for next year’s Associated Students council, we should vote for students who have proven that they will work for the students as well as put pressure on the administration to actually allow these students to represent us.
Alex Rickard – Former Director of Marketing and Vice President Internal for Warren College Student Council
Photograph courtesy of Hazel Leung of the UCSD Guardian Photography Department.