Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, September 28, 2023

Better communication needed from ASM

One of the easiest things to do is to understand the basic idea of ASM. Any politician in a finely tailored suit would catch the essence of it: a student government. So like any other political entities, it suffers a great problem of public outreach. To most students on campus, ASM is no more than some confusing headlines. The organization has always been working hard to make changes. But their overtly political approaches rarely attract new fans.

Recently, ASM again set out to tackle the communication issue. Each ASM representative will be required to hold at least two office hours a week, during the academic year. Besides sitting behind the desk, they will also have to report on compliance with the new rule every month. Failure to do either of these would result in penalties. Student Services Finance Committee members have also proposed a bylaw change allowing the removal of SSFC members because of threatening behavior toward other members, as well as excessive absences and other issues.

Both policies sound like good news for students. At least it has become more convenient to check on our own government and communicate with decisionmakers. But I doubt many students would actually exploit these opportunities. If you don't even go to your professor's office hours, will you bother to visit a student representative? A majority of students don't even know the full name of SSFC. Most of them would probably respond with an unaffected ""OK"" to SSFC's decisive reform. So in reality, changes within ASM will only benefit a few interested parties. ASM thinks it's serving ""some 40,000 plus"" students. But I wouldn't call something a service if it can't reach its patrons.

Unfortunately, this is a chronic problem. ASM's deep-running bureaucratic style undermines its effective communication with the student body. Many students find it hard to join ASM's discussion. We have no idea about what will be going on unless we check out a little bulletin board at the Student Activity Center every day. What we usually get is just post-hoc reporting on final decisions. Now students are paying higher segregated fees, part of which goes to the $140 million Union project. A lot of us probably haven't realized that we're responsible for a decision made four years ago by ASM, the Student Election Commission and 10 percent of students on campus.

Because of this interaction shortage, it's becoming more difficult for ASM to garner enough student support to push through their agenda. In a desperate attempt to amend their constitution, some ASM representatives even turned directly to friends and co-workers. I personally ran into such a conversation this past summer.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Daily Cardinal delivered to your inbox

""Hi Qi, can you sign on this sheet?""

""What's it about?""

""It's a petition to amend the ASM constitution. You can just put your name right here.""

Now that the fall election of ASM is going Monday through Wednesday, candidates are again pumped with new ideas. One of the initiatives is creating ASM newsletters for all students on campus. If that comes to fruition, you and I will probably get a weekly ASM hello in our WiscMail. Let's be honest: Will you read it? Hey, no worries. Some candidates have already thought about that. Besides an E-mail, you could also receive a printed newsletter detailing the activities of your ""government.""

All these novel suggestions are approaching ASM's problem in the usual fashion: doing what a politician would do. ASM needs to reach out to students, not only by thrusting their decisions into our hands, but by tying their reputation to tangible benefits we could enjoy. The Distinguished Lecture Series, supported by the Wisconsin Union, sets a very good example. Each year, the group offers a series of lectures given by prominent individuals, such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. Student participation has been really encouraging during these events. The reason is obvious: We all readily learn something from it. So rather than showing off its illegible bureaucratic details, ASM should think about how its confusing nature could serve students in a more comprehensible way.

ASM is not a ""government"" deciding for students, but a pioneer student organization contributing to our campus. Before it can speak for all of us, ASM should set be setting the ideal example for other student groups.

Qi Gu is a junior majoring in journalism. We welcome all feedback. Please send responses to 

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Daily Cardinal has been covering the University and Madison community since 1892. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 The Daily Cardinal