Apathy: Student leaders’ most frequent frustration

By Sarah Stubbs 

The main news story this week for the Pulse is all about the decrease of student participation at SGA-funded events this fall. What drew me to work on this news story for our last issue of the Pulse for the semester was the insane amount of rumors I had been hearing from students about SGA supposedly being out of money from the Jason Derulo concert and therefore, to make up for it, they are cutting budgets and/or denying them entirely. Once I met with SGA President Forrest Miller and VP of Student Affairs Dave Emsweller, I learned that the rumors were entirely false. Even though SGA didn’t sell as many tickets as they might have liked for the Derulo concert, they had set aside enough money over the past two years to be able to stay within their budget for the concert no matter how many tickets were sold. 

So, if SGA still has all this money, why are student organizations’ budgets still being cut down or denied? Well, if you read the story on page one you’ll know that it’s because student participation is 33 percent down this year. The freshman class is small, and that could be a reason for the lack of participation, but I think that this problem is more about attitude than facts and figures. 

Over the last couple of years, I have felt that our campus has become increasingly apathetic. Yes, we are a small, conservative, private university, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work to raise consciousness on campus or rally behind a cause. 

Everyone is busy and each academic program offers its own sets of challenges and time commitments, but it’s interesting to me that more people don’t prioritize social experiences on campus when all of the opportunities are right at our fingertips (we have more than 90 clubs and you have the power to start one that doesn’t exist, if you wanted to). 

The realities are student leaders are spread thin and not always respected, and many students care more about freebies than they do anything else. 

Many criticize SGA, but will never run for office (SGA members frequently run unopposed). A club might have an email list of more than 100 students, but only have 10 in attendance at its meetings. 

Unfortunately, it’s true that a lot of the events on campus are usually thanks to the work of one, two, or three student leaders, no matter the size of the group. Few events are the result of a complete team effort. 

As a leader myself, I know that it often feels easiest to do everything yourself as opposed to delegating tasks. That might be true in some cases, but you’re hurting your organization in the long run because the future leaders in your group aren’t learning the ropes because you’re not giving them the chance to. 

It’s also easy to get consumed with just focusing on making it happen and getting it over with, overlooking the greater purpose of the event. We want to make sure our budgets are approved and that people show up, but are we invested in whether or not our event provides a meaningful experience for students? 

Well, maybe the majority of students aren’t interested in a meaningful experience.

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