Although many of you may not know this, until this year Roth Regatta was an event run by the Roth Pond Regatta Club, a recognized student organization. However, last year saw the passage of the Office of Student Life, Programming and Activities Act. This controversial piece of legislation took many of our treasured campus traditions, including the Regatta, and put them in the hands of SPA, a newly established branch of USG. Those of us who had poured countless hours into establishing these traditions were never consulted or even formally notified; we were simply informed the following year that a club that we were extremely passionate about now belonged to USG and that we had no say in the matter.
The justification for this take over was that USG would be able to open the planning of the event up to a larger segment of the student body and that the planning would happen more efficiently if handled by a central authority. As to date, with the event less than a week away, neither of these two goals have been met.
At least as a club, membership was open to the entire campus community, and anyone who has attended a Regatta knows that it was a well run event—which brings up the age old adage, “don’t fix what isn’t broken.” Although you may disagree about whether USG is the proper entity to run the Regatta, I feel the more important question is this: what right does USG have to take over a student run club? Yes, in a democratic system, people must capitulate to the will of our duly elected representatives, but is there to be no limit on how far government can go? At what point does democracy lead to a tyranny of the majority? Shouldn’t a democracy have some checks on what it can and can’t do? In our case, we aren’t even talking about a majority, but rather a select group of overzealous students who take their jobs way too seriously. I say “jobs” because the Office of Student Life, Programming and Activities Act allows the SPA to pay themselves for stealing our traditions.
In all fairness, I am generalizing a bit, and I know several USG members who have done a terrific job of establishing a sense of community on campus. USG is simply piggybacking on the years of groundwork laid by others, and I think it is time that we as students take a stand. USG is meant to look out for us, not dictate to us what we can and can’t do as students. I have filed a brief against USG, but am hoping for the support of the student body as well.
Students of Stony Brook beware, for first they came for the Regatta….