No, actually Kyle misses the point

Today in the BH, Kyle Szarzynski provided his solution for the ailing ASM: Student Mobilization.  The CB has also thrown in his opinion. According to Szarzynski:

Even a Platonically ideal student government will be fundamentally powerless in the absence of student mobilization — the only agent for meaningful change on behalf of those this university is supposed to be serving.

This is the essential mentality on which the current ASM structure is premised.  It is a simple idea, students are fettered by the powerful administration/ state legislature, who are systematically revoking our rights.  It was this mentality that ASM formed in the model of WISPIRG.  As we have learned from the last 15 years, WISPIRG may do an effective job advocating for their issues, but their structure is not a sound for of governance.

It is precisely the WISPIRG/ASM structure which has cause the alienation of institutionalized powers from the day-to-day operations of the organization.  The current system does not facilitate cooperation between the financial and shared governance arms of ASM and the advocacy arms.  As a result, ASM advocacy efforts tend to be anemic. 

The WISPIRG-style of student mobilization, which is what Szarzynski is supporting, is the exactly what ASM needs to move away from.  This is why ASM is creating a closed press office.  This is why ASM voted last night to begin exploration for a new logo that does not resemble 1980s socialist artwork. 

This does not mean that ASM will be impotent in their issue work and advocacy.  For example, ASM has begun to meet regularly with Steve Nass.  The student presence in the debate over University funding could have an important impact on how these issues are dealt with.

But the persistent truth is that the student government is not the organization to call up large rally.  The student government is the group that can represent students officially on these positions.   With this in mind, movement to a model that facilitates this action is the only responsible action that ASM could take. 

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5 Responses to “No, actually Kyle misses the point”

  1. The Critical Badger Says:

    First of all, ASM *has not* begun to meet regularly with Steve Nass. Insiders have told me it was *a* meeting and Nass isn’t going to change anything.

    Second, this blog needs to have its large, Wal-Mart like staff, sign posts at least with initials. This is clearly Gallagher, but I think it’s insane you’d have an anon blog where the Chair of ASM can, in theory, post about ASM anon, and pass it off like ordinary students came to the conclusion.

  2. Brittany Wiegand Says:

    I didn’t do that post…. although I agree with it wholeheartedly

  3. Critical Badger Says:

    Just used you as an example to highlight the importance of such a mega-blog having its authors sign posts. I don’t think you wrote the above.

  4. Kyle Szarzynski Says:

    The Critical Badger is definitely right here – if you are going to critique in this manner hiding behind anonymity seems vaguely unethical.

    Anyway, online debates are problematic enough, while engaging an anonymous online poster is usually pointless. The above post about the SSFC meeting last night is nothing but a misinformed drive-by and, therefore, not worth responding to.

    But based on previous conversations we have had, I will assume this is Alex. If you think I am any sort of WISPIRG fan you should probably talk with Porton, which, incidentally, made the group’s precarious position with committee members other than myself rather ironic. As far as I can tell, WISPIRG is essentially a liberal public interest group that has little do with serious leftist organizing. They do some good things, sure, but their type of political engagement – lobbying, petitioning, swearing off extralegal tactics – has nothing to do with the type of student movement many of us would like to see.

  5. Alex Gallagher Says:

    As for the observations from last nights meetings, those were from I-Badger “B” who is certainly not me. Although, I would be hesitant to question the knowledge of Ms. “B”, who has both sat on SSFC dealt with the seg fee system in several other capacities.

    As for this post, I do not ever assume that you are promoting WISPIRG. That is irrelevant. My concerns lies in the idea of ASM as a student movement. ASM was formed to be a student movement, with institutionalized parts. As you can tell, this set up has neither produced a prolific political engagement, nor has did it bode well for the segregated fee system.

    The primary objective of a student government is to provide quality representation on student issues. At time this may mean employing mass organizing skills, but in general it is centered on specific relations between student government leaders and others in the university.

    Currently WISPIRG represents a viable group which promotes the student movement. You may not agree with all their tactics, but it represents broader mobilization. My point is that illusions by ASM that their primary goal is to mobilize massive numbers of students has failed in the past and is certainly not track we should encourage further.

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