| 03.18.2018

Student government serves a purpose


Jenson column missed the point, ASUI has significant impact on student life

As the Editor-in-Chief of The Argonaut I’ve spent much of this past year defending Andrew Jenson’s right to his opinion, despite the fact that I — and many of our readers — vehemently disagree with nearly every word he writes.

His latest column — No Big Deal — is no exception.

Kaitlyn Krasselt

Kaitlyn Krasselt

Aside from our differing opinions on nearly every topic under the sun, Jenson is a model Argonaut employee. He is ethical, professional and an outstanding leader in our video department.

I normally refrain from responding to Jenson’s opinions. The Argonaut’s readers typically need little assistance from me in debating Jenson’s viewpoints.

But the topic of his latest column is one I fear many of our readers will brush off as an uncharacteristically mild Jensonism rather than the gross mischaracterization and misunderstanding of ASUI that it is because the topic is not nearly as flashy or heated as feminism or religion.

And as Jenson points out — and proves with his own ignorance — the majority of the student body is unclear on the purpose of ASUI and student government, so they’re likely to blindly agree with Jenson or dismiss entirely the function of ASUI.

Jenson said he believes ASUI is “an unimportant organization with a narrow focus.” ASUI is more than just a collection of students playing politics — it is every student club, every student-fee funded department or service and every undergraduate student on the University of Idaho campus. Those in the governing branch are responsible for ensuring the organization as a whole carries out its duties in making sure these opportunities are available for students as a means to enhance the student experience.

For Jenson to suggest that he could do this on his own without a governing body that provides funds and structure for the organizations he has taken advantage of is unrealistic and a complete dismissal of the value his own collegiate experience.

Despite clarifying that he was not trying to dismiss ASUI as unnecessary, Jenson did just that by undermining the value of any student experience that was not his own and failed to acknowledge the primary functions of ASUI as they relate to the university — and even to his own experience at the university as a four-year employee of The Argonaut.

The examples Jenson points to — such as providing funding for Waffle Wednesdays or changing the dress-code for Halloween — are minor in the grand scheme of all that ASUI does, and the bills related to these issues are merely functions of parliamentary procedure ASUI is subject to as a governing body.

In addition to analyzing and setting student fees, taking a stance on and representing the views of the entire student body on issues, such as smoking, which directly affect students, providing a student voice in university administration, and yes, enhancing the student experience, ASUI representatives can have a little fun and wear a Halloween costume to their weekly senate meeting without negating their entire purpose for existing.

And as for Waffle Wednesdays, Jenson and his conservative counterparts would be appalled if any other branch of government spent any portion of their publicly funded budget without following proper parliamentary protocol.

It is important to vote in ASUI elections because these are the students tasked with spending thousands of student fee dollars, providing opportunities to students and standing up for issues that are important to the student body such as tobacco rights, student safety and sexual violence prevention, to name a few from the past year. While it’s clear some students run for these positions as a resume builder, most truly believe in representing the student body. But determining who is best fit for the position is up to the voters, and choosing not to participate is no different than any other election.

It is encouraging that the future leaders of this country are getting experience now in the functions of government, and we can only hope that once they take over the leadership roles of this country, their ethical and productive management of government will continue whether they’re voting on waffles, war or women’s rights.

Kaitlyn Krasselt can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu

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