Unshared Governance

For years, student government at the state’s flagship university was considered to be a joke. It was mostly an activity for fraternity and sorority members to add to their resume. Participation in the election of the student-body president, vice-president and board of governors had each year declined to all-time lows. There was very little interest in voting by non-Greek students.

As a result, an all-Greek candidate slate was elected by less than one percent of the student body. Undeterred by the low turnout, the new student government set about to make election reforms. They passed the following:

  • Discontinuance of electronic voting, claiming that computer voting could lead to fraud.
  • Elimination of voting sites to just one site at the student union.
  • Requiring that students must be full time students to vote. This eliminated many adult students, grad students, and those students who could only afford to take one or two classes.

The election reforms worked as intended. The following year, participation in voting declined even further. Again, an all-Greek slate was elected. But there were unintended consequences. The study body president was a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. In the past, the Trustees listened to what the president of the student body had to say, and he/she was very influential in issues where students’ interests were involved. But no more.

The trustees had become an activist group who were skeptical of the university’s left-wing agenda. A number of anti-student actions were proposed. Scholarship funding was reduced, tuition was increased. An oversight board was implemented to ensure that no classes espoused what was considered anti-American propaganda.

The student body president opposed each of these actions but was ignored. The common response was that: “you don’t represent students just your Greek drinking buddies.”

Shared governance of the university disappeared. Trustees were appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. The Trustees were dominated by one-party with a clear agenda. The student body president had no legitimacy because of the low student participation in the elections. The university became essentially an authoritarian state.

Just imagine how the situation at the university might become the future of democracy in states across the country and eventually our country? Just imagine the unintended consequences of restrictions on voting rights in our democracy? Just imagine what citizens can do to fight back against the movement toward authoritarianism.

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“To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.” – George Orwell (Author)

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