Back several hundred years ago, if you were in a roomful of unwashed and smelly aristocrats, a simple solution was to pin a bouquet of flowers on your lapel. Perfumed hankies were popular as well—you could wave them around to stave off nausea.
And it’s nausea that many students and administrators may feel over the flowery language and bloated praise ASCOCC heaps on themselves regarding their new constitution. It makes you want to run to the florist.
ASCOCC was going maverick last fall. They had hired a Public Relations consultant in September (without informing students until weeks later) and talked about exploring a non-profit status in their government publication. The college knew they had a problem and even hired a lawyer to deal with ASCOCC in hopes of making them “less combative.” ASCOCC had very little oversight, made questionable decisions and were bound by loose policy. Something needed to be done.
Then, ASCOCC hired their own $300 per hour lawyer in addition to the PR consultant. What was the goal initially? Not to be dissolved by the college and maybe assert their independence, independence that was reinforced by a political action committee donation.
It was a mess.
The parties entered into closed door work sessions or “conversations” and have just emerged with a new constitution.
The total tab so far for the PR consultant and the lawyer is more than $27,000 of student fee money. There will likely be another bill potentially bringing the total to over $30,000.
Wave your hankies because the smell gets worse.
Your student government should have worked with their college to resolve these issues back in Fall instead of spending student’s money on a lawyer and PR person and then emerging from talks claiming in their government publication that they saved students from a COCC sneak attack on their rights. Oh, please.
The only sweet smelling aspect to the entire affair is the insertion of two committees and two advisory boards as oversight to ASCOCC. For this success, students and administration should be happy.
The estimated $280,000 in student fees—collected when tuition is paid—will still be handled by student government, but there is now a budget committee that will review it. There will be a hiring committee to see that appointments and hiring are done fairly.
There is a hearing board for potential grievances with your student government and an advisory board. It’s an effective check and balance against student council members who may feel like they are in charge of a bulging trust fund rather than public money.
So vote “yes” on the constitution.
That’s a “yes” for oversight, responsibility and accountability.
If ASCOCC tries to tell you how tirelessly they love their college, find a flower shop that’s having a sale on roses and breathe deeply.
Kirsteen Wolf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org