Letter to the editor: The griffin doesn’t fly without student input

by: Katie Parker

You must’ve been living under a rock all week if you haven’t heard anyone talking about the greatest issue Canisius students have ever seen: the Undergraduate Student Association’s decision to purchase a $100,000 statue of a Golden Griffin. Many are outraged, plenty just don’t care, and everyone else has spent the past three days tirelessly explaining what a contingency fund is to anyone who will listen. What’s interesting to me about this mid-semester crisis isn’t whether we end up with a statue or not, but what the USA’s role on campus really is.

Transparency is a buzzword USA is constantly throwing around, and rightfully so. From what I’ve seen and heard from members of the E-Board and senators alike, communicating with and getting information out to the general student body is a constant struggle. There are accusations that USA is consistently reactionary; there are an onslaught of tweets and posts from student leaders encouraging us to ask our senators about the statue that didn’t pop up before the vote, but after it was too late. Meanwhile, the same student leaders are wondering why there was such a limited response when there were original emails and notifications about it beginning in September. Clearly there’s a lack of effective communication between students and leaders.

The biggest problem here is what we expect from our senators. Each time a senator votes, they vote on behalf of what their class wants or needs, but they also vote as one of the few students who sits in every single USA meeting. They vote as a leader who has debated a single issue with their peers for at least a few weeks, and obtained some basic knowledge of how Canisius is run that most of us don’t have. It isn’t an easy task to weigh what every one of their peers thinks with the information they have access to, and know how to make a decision that will ultimately be the most beneficial for the school. When something like this statue arises, the role USA plays on our campus and what our senators do for us suddenly becomes a major problem. It causes us all to question why they’re voting the way that they are, and if they’re really considering their entire class when casting their vote. This questioning, however, comes across as misguided and ill-informed when there’s such an extreme lack of involvement with every other issue. It’s important to know what your student leaders are doing and hold them accountable as your representative at all times, instead of getting angry once or twice a year.

USA is an interesting beast on campus. They’re easily ignored by most of the student body until anything mildly controversial arises, then they’re met with criticism from any student with a Twitter. I don’t think there’s one magic answer that will make USA’s presence on campus more accessible or open. But, I would encourage students to remember that your class senators and members of the E-board are elected into their positions because you voted for them. The students who vote on things like the statue are able to because you trusted them to make these choices when you elected them. When they attempt to keep you in the loop as issues arise, take the time to stay involved so you can effectively communicate with your leaders, instead of getting outraged about something you may or may not know much about. At the end of the day, our campus will soon be embellished with a massive golden griffin – whatever else you think the money should’ve been spent on, you have to admit the thing’s pretty cool.

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