Student involvement essential

Harvey Hall is filled with students while Dr. David S. Dockery, university president, speaks during the Student Senate meeting. | Photo by Jacob Moore

By Whitney Jones, News Editor

Complaints are commonplace, but working through solutions too often is not.

Students often grumble about what seems like an unnecessarily high amount of handicap-parking spots or the shrinking number of seats available at noon in the Brewer Student Dining Hall.

While some of these problems cannot be fixed — the Grant Events Center will always need its own parking no matter how close it is to students’ dorm rooms — proposing solutions to any complaint is better than just airing frustration.

Solutions lead to more active, involved communities, and if no one speaks up to fix common complaints the problems will never be resolved.

What goes on at this campus is a microcosm of what is waiting beyond the halls of the Penick Academic Complex: the working world. If students are not active within the small community on campus, how do they expect to shape the world once they leave?

Organizations such as Student Government Association and Student Activities Council provide places for students to work their democratic and serving    muscles.

Yet every other week, many of the seats sit empty in Harvey Hall — the meeting place for Student Senate, a gathering of people ready to debate and improve Union’s campus with suggestions ranging from a Walker Road sidewalk to longer small gym hours.

The only Senate meeting that brings a crowd is when Dr. David S. Dockery, university president, addresses the student body and answers their questions.

For that week’s Senate most chairs were full, and people sat on the edges of the room, but if you come any other week to Harvey Hall you will find about half that number in attendance.

Even SGA, the organization that runs Senate, lacks people who jump at the chance to lead. The election for its executive leaders only had two out of five positions in which multiple people ran.

While it may be difficult to give up an hour, sometimes 90 minutes, on Wednesday nights, the duty required of SGA leaders and representatives of student organizations, fight the resistance that tells you to stay in and be involved on this university’s campus.

Students’ voices and solutions to complaints can be not only heard. If they take the gumption to show up and get involved in Senate or even write a letter to a campus or local newspaper, those voices have the chance to be heard and the suggestions for improvement implemented.

However, for those who do not fancy the legislative process, with its occasional debates, amendments and seconded motions, student government is not the only avenue of preparation for being an involved citizen outside the walls of the               university.

Involvement in the world beyond your small circles begins with intentional habits — habits like reading the newspaper on a regular basis, occasionally listening to chatter that goes on in the political world or turning the car stereo to a National Public Radio station or talk show instead of plugging in an iPod.

People who know what goes on outside their field of experience are better balanced in their perspectives, and that knowledge can fuel passions they may not have known existed.

The information that can lead to broader understanding can come from newspapers, Senate meetings or even travel.

Exposure to situations and viewpoints beyond what people see and think every day stretches them and can inspire some to fight the temptation to keep a mundane routine, which can push away the passion and desire to take action that lies deep within each person’s soul.

Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream
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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.