Question?

The night the constitution failed, Jeff Wright stopped by my house.  And as he, Brittany, Sol, and I sipped bourbon and discussed the failures of the campaign, he suggested that we could try to pull in the vote no crowd and reauthor the document to give them more confidence that this document would not jeopardize their funding.

At the time, I discounted this, saying the student body would not have much patience for these antics.  Even if we got the support from most of the vote no crowd, I doubt that we would win over all of them.  Even if the funding issues were resolved, there a seemingly irreconcilable difference over how ASM should be organized. While a round 2 vote no group might be smaller,  I felt that any indication that there was not consensus on this document would try the patience of the student body and likely lead it a repeated failure, a coffin nail of sorts.

However, Smather’s editorial has raised the question again…. If revisions were made which reintroduced timelines on the funding code, reduced the executive influence on budgets, etc., and if ASM was able to get GSSF groups to endorse the changes, do you think the student body would go for it?

What about if it was delayed until the fall elections of next year.  This would stop the rollout for another year.  But that could give more time for working through bylaws, etc. Thoughts?

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5 Responses to “Question?”

  1. Critical Badger Says:

    No. There are irreconcilable differences in the philosophies between the vote yes and no groups. Furthermore, an emboldened vote no group has plans to slate and win as much power as possible on the current ASM. That is more valuable than a Constitution 2.0 to a side that can now use the carcass of ASM’s dead body to supplement outside interests (e.g. you’ll see ASM taking more stances on social justice issues).

    GSSF groups alone are not that powerful. An endorsement from “Sex Out Loud” does nothing.

  2. Kyle Szarzynski Says:

    Agree with Danny, though I do appreciate the thought. The truth is funding for student organizations was never really a principal concern for most people. Groups like PAVE and SOL had little role in driving this campaign, and even they ended up being concerned about more issues than just their funding. A top-down system will never be acceptable to grassroots progressives. I can’t tell you how many former ASMers – people going back to the ninth and sixth sessions even – wanted to see this Constitution killed because of their positive experiences of organizing within ASM in previous years. You’d probably be surprised to know the horror of former ASM radicals/leaders at what was being proposed, and it’s pretty demonstrative of what I and others feel were the real problems with the new Constitution.

    A better place to begin a conversation between the two sides starts with your previous post, which is very insightful, despite some disagreements I may have. Council is indeed an organizational mess and it will be a great challenge for a (hopefully successful) slate of progressives to reconcile what it means to be a “legislator” with the grassroots element. No one would contend that combining the two is an easy task, which is why the few progressives currently involved in ASM will have to play a large role in educating future members about the jumbled mess that is our student government.

    Within the next few days, a core group will be meeting to discuss strategy, vision and concrete plans for what we would like to see for the future of ASM. While larger social justice concerns will have to be intricately tied to anything we do, the bulk of our platform will be around fairly uncontroversial progressive issues – tuition/financial aid, diversity, student empowerment/democratization of the university and socially responsible investment. The truth is these are things that most students agree with, including most members of the Constitutional Committee. There is no reason why these plans should invite a backlash from anyone outside of the far right.

    The implementation of these plans is, of course, the hard part, which is why we are interested in making this coalition as broad as our core principles allow. Much of your advice seems sound and welcome, and it is a conversation that should continue among everyone interested in fighting for student issues.

  3. wilounge Says:

    Kyle,
    Honestly, I don’t think you need an effective Council to have an effective ASM. While I feel that this certainly retracts from the representative democracy ideals of the organization, there are other ways to garner broad student input. I think the challenge for you will be that creating an organization which a significant portion of the campus feels is representative, you must have space for the entire spectrum of affiliations. If your campaign branch seems inaccessible, either due to the topics or tactics you chose, you run the risk of either alienating a portion of the student body, which will be harmful when you try to claim to represent them, or you expose your other functions, i.e. financial functions, to the political bickering.

    As I have said repeated, I feel it is absolutely essential that the financial side of ASM be as sheltered as possible from the political debates which are going on. This means you will have to find alternative ways to open up the organization. This is the reason why creating a viable council becomes so important, but it almost necessitates a legislative function. If council is relegated to activist functions it will either be representative, but not functional, or active, but not representative.

  4. Kyle Szarzynski Says:

    I have never served on Council, my only experiencing being with the LLPC through Shared Gov and the SSFC. I have talked with like-minded people who have served, however, and even they would agree the fundamental role of Council is ambiguous. However, everyone agrees that we need our people in those seats if we want to accomplish a progressive agenda. It seems the hard part is creating a coherent framework between the grassroots committee – which we envision as being the bottom-up energy needed to build a student movement – and the Council itself.

    One point I think you and others haven’t considered is that, regardless of the problems with Council, its aggressive push for the issues outlined above gives our movement so much more credibility than groups like SPD, SLAC or even MCSC with the administration and other institutions of power, as well as with the press and other establishment entities. It simply means so much more when our student government is demanding divestment from war profiteers than groups constantly labeled as fringe. This legitimacy also extends to the student body itself. A leftist ASM has a lot of potential for increasing involvement in progressive causes. I think it’s a dialectic, in which increasing activism on campus will radicalize ASM, while that same transformed ASM will then help to create even more activism among students.

    Again, no one is saying our task is an easy one, but we are obviously unified in our belief that a democratic takeover of ASM will only aid in our cause.

  5. Sol Says:

    I actually had Scotch.

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