"Citizen Dover" Zachary Dover Dateline Alabama February 16, 2006
Opinions editor Zac Dover expresses a small bit of what he believes good citizenship is, and begins a discussion of how apathy on the part of independents and exclusionary secrecy on the part of the Greek block prevent any community from forming here in Tuscaloosa.
Those who are Machine affiliated often say that the unaffiliated should stop complaining and organize. They say that the government isn't responsive to independents because the independents don't care enough about it. But when anyone begins to ask questions about the goals of the student government, they complain. When anyone asks what the government has done lately, they complain that those who are asking the question are uninterested. They complain about a lack of interest, even as interest is clearly growing. Every attempt at being a good citizen is rebuffed by this block of voters who control the SGA. Despite its claims to the contrary, the SGA does not care about citizenship. It is a training ground for Alabama's unthinking leaders of the future. It is an exclusive special interest group controlled by an even more exclusive special interest group. No government deserves our reverence and few governments merit respect. The SGA doesn't even deserve an attempt to conceal our contempt for it and our recognition of its irrelevance to most of us.
Our student government has almost always been a bad government. Its policies are irrelevant, trivial, or exclusionary. The propaganda-and-thuggery arm of the SGA that threatens independent candidates every spring reveals a design wholly opposed to anything even vaguely resembling representative democracy. Any government that would stand in the way of your forming opinions about its actions is hiding something, and there is nothing wrong with asking what it's hiding. If it insists on hiding something from its people, then its people no longer have oversight over the actions of that government. If people subject to the authority of a government have no oversight over the actions of that government, then they do not live in a democracy. If a government makes serious attempts to restrict reports of its activities, it pursues designs opposed to democracy. Our SGA, controlled by the Greek block, pursues designs opposed to democracy, and no amount of high-handed sanctimony or denial will change that.
Part of being a good citizen involves knowing what your government is doing. Part of being a good citizen involves having enough of a critical ability to be able to form opinions about the policies of your government.
I have spent some time reading about the Student Government. The history of the student government is necessarily the history of The Machine, which is to say the history of Greek influence in the student government. Any history that leaves out this essential aspect of political life here is just propaganda for this group of people who would rather not be discussed.
An editorial column should contain an opinion, and I suppose it's high time I stated the opinion behind this one: we should have an open discussion of the Student Government, and we should always demand that our government tell us what it is doing, and why. They'll say that we have no credentials to question them. They'll say that we're troublemakers and that we dirty the nest. They may threaten to kill
us. This is all nonsense of the highest order. These are cowardly attempts to silence questions. These responses are vapid, and without content. We have no reason to take them seriously. We have every reason to ask what the government is up to, and how it is being run. It is our government. If it is run by a small group of people, we have good reason to ask who those people are and what they want with our SGA.
I have no illusions that this meager column will be at the front ranks of some vanguard of independent voters, a clarion call to those capable of thought to take the governmental reins from rich kids who've been coerced into their governmental positions. But I would gladly leave in the historical record evidence that there were some who saw through the white-washed snowjob nonsense of the SGA to the real government, with its black-hoods and bloody ceremonies, and its badly-concealed supposedly-secret Wednesday night meetings to discuss which bills and resolutions will be passed during Thursday's Senate meeting. There are those among us who are not stupid, and who have nothing to gain from the Greeks who run the Student Government. And as we recognize that we have nothing to gain from them, we should recognize that we have nothing to lose by asking what they're doing with our government.
Soon we will begin examining the legislation passed by the SGA.