Colorado Mesa University’s Associated Student Government has made it clear in interviews and statements during meetings that one of their main goals for the upcoming academic year is to be a more visible presence on CMU’s campus. But, were these statements simply hollow, or does ASG intend to follow through with them?
During their Sept. 13 meeting, Senator Jeff Vela proposed a resolution in support of CMU dreamers. The resolution was passed with unanimous consensus. Some senators even proposed forming a committee to take further action, such as providing scholarships or housing, in support of these students.
When asked to volunteer for the committee, 18 senators raised their hands.
On Sept. 16, local community organizations gathered at the CMU plaza to hold a demonstration in support of dreamers. Some CMU faculty, mainly from the Spanish department, and students attended the event, along with many community members.
At the center of the group were ASG President Ben Linzey and Vice President Gabby Gile, accompanied by four ASG senators: Jeff Vela, Amber DuBois, Celeste Martinez and Nayeli Martinez. While these members certainly deserve to be commended for taking action in support of dreamers, the turnout from ASG is nonetheless disappointing, especially considering Linzey encouraged students to go to the event during Wednesday’s meeting.
After a unanimous resolution in support of dreamers, why didn’t more senators attend arguably the most visible event for this issue, just three days later?
While the passing of their resolution makes ASG the most relevant group to question, attendance from groups like Latino Student Alliance, International Student Alliance and Cultural Diversity Board also seemed low.
During the discussion for Vela’s resolution on Wednesday, Vela assured Angel Lopez, the coordinator for LSA who was also at the demonstration, that even though the resolution may seem like “just words on paper,” ASG would take further action. Though Vela and a few other senators have taken one concrete step to back up Vela’s assertion, a mere six members of a 32 body hardly reflects the determination and passion senators demonstrated during their meeting.
It’s hard to argue with this low turnout from senators, though both Linzey and Gile told The Criterion they were happy that any senators came to the event.
“I think that it’s always better to have more people,” Gile said, “but I think that the sentiments behind why senate passed that resolution were meaningful.”
The problem is the sentiments are just that: only feelings, only opinions, only words.
Attending a demonstration located on campus is one of the easiest steps senators could have taken to lend visible, actual support to students affected by DACA. If more than six members couldn’t take an hour out of their Saturday to attend a demonstration where all that was required of them was to listen to dreamers’ stories, how can dreamers expect anything more from ASG?
The organization that essentially promised words are not just words proved the exact opposite with their attendance numbers.
Will senators call Representative Scott Tipton and urge him to support the 2017 Dream Act? Will they work with LSA to organize further events for these students on campus? How can dreamers have faith that a committee will take more difficult actions, like forming scholarships or finding housing, when the majority of that committee didn’t take time to understand the community they are trying to help?
It seems that senators only have the courage and resolve to support dreamers when they’re in a safe meeting room. But, real support for dreamers involves more than a “yes” vote or raising a hand.
The lack of early action from ASG is not just an issue for DACA students, but is also indicative of a larger problem regarding the role of student government on campus. Is ASG just a rubber stamp body for trip funding and organizational spending, or are they a body that can have a concrete and visible effect on students?
If ASG wants to be the government they claim to be, the one they swore to be at their first meeting and the one their constituents voted for, they will need to provide action. Otherwise, their words will be filled with as much empty promise as their own United States representatives.