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Government is supposed to be selfless

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An illustration with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other.
Illustration by Makenna Timoteo | Staff Illustrator

As the dust settles on former Student Government President Connor Clegg’s impeachment, many Texas State students find themselves with a new awareness about their student government.

Student senators, representatives and justices have been under scrutiny, not just from their peers at Texas State, but from citizens across the country after being on national news media as a new cabinet comes into a volatile environment.

Now is a good time to refresh ourselves about the Texas State Student Government’s mission statements—all of which are on their website. They are summarized in a succinct description: “Students Serving Students.”

In all the confusion and reactionary turmoil of not just our campus’ political climate, but our nation’s, it can be easy to forget the true purpose of government: service.

Social media allows for awareness of issues, but posting one photo or summarizing a complex issue into 280 characters or less gives the world a two-dimensional image of any situation. That was obvious over the last month of protests on campus.

Valid struggles like students feeling unsafe on campus and their needs as part of a diverse population were not being adequately addressed were lost in the furore over Instagram photos. Outside media organizations heightened the feeling of alienation and fear on both sides. Far-right blogs labeled the campus “toxic,” and far-left blogs marked events like the more than 50-hour sit-in as watersheds in fighting white privilege.

Now, students have received many of their demands. Clegg was impeached, and Latina/o and Black Studies minors are being actively planned for the near future. However, Clegg and his supporters have been held up as martyrs for free speech and thought by far-right websites like David Horowitz’s Frontpage Magazine. The crowds have dispersed and a new chapter has begun for student government and the student body as a whole.

Now what? Now the anger has faded and compromises have been reached, what is next?

Now, we must continue to compromise. The citizens of this country and state have seen their government officials constantly let constituents down, focusing more on worthless issues with high political capital than issues that affect the people in their communities. We must take a lesson from these last few weeks and ensure our student government representatives are focusing on service.

Not all battles at Texas State have been won. There are still issues to be faced: some accessibility ramps are in poor shape and many students would like to see a more diverse faculty. The parking permit-per-space ratios—especially for commuter students—are infuriatingly insufficient. All of these things affect the Texas State student body, and its government must stand up for all those affected.

It may be tempting to settle into a cycle of personal attacks between student representatives. Tempers run high between a new administration and the sides of a drawn-out argument over one man’s actions. However, all students, whether they are part of student government or not, must rise above and move forward.

Government is, in its very purpose, a selfless pursuit. Whether it is in actual practice or not is up to those who make up government. However, it can be easier for most people to look out for themselves rather than the thousands of people who depend on them.

We look to our state and federal governments and see what appears to be an endless stream of distractions, personal attacks and vendettas. Student Government must serve a better example to the students who elected its members and trust in them to serve as their voices to the school administration.

Students now know to keep a closer eye on not only student government, but the administration as a whole. A student government should be held accountable to the mission it represents, upholding “an obligation to better Texas State University for all students through honest, truthful, moral and ethical actions.”

– Toni MacCrossan is a biology senior

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