Tucked away in the corner of the Associated Students Main Office is the Office of the Student Advocate (OSA). If you don’t know where that is, I won’t hold it against you. Being a caseworker in the PR Dept. of the OSA, most of my time is spent taking cases or meeting with students who feel unfairly treated by the university. Though our services are confidential, most involve drinking violations in the dorms or plagiarism allegations in the classroom. However, the office door is usually open for walk-ins.
A.S. Main is a peculiar place; a wide variety of student groups and elected officials meet there everyday, and as such, I often have the chance to chat with most of them about current events. Elections having just been completed and the candidates chosen (congratulations and good luck guys, you’re going to need it); the major discussions taking place involve next year’s administration. Unfortunately, not all of this talk has been positive.
In fact, it is extremely disheartening to have heard personal attacks on individual people. Even worse, not all of these comments occur in the office, where at least most people have the courtesy to abide by the slightly ridiculous slogan that “A.S. is a place for everyone.” Instead, they resort to more public places like Facebook to vent their qualms regarding election results. I realize that many of you reading this may not really care about what goes on in A.S. (sadly, only about half of all undergraduates voted), but no matter who you are, you should certainly care that these people regulate over $9 million of your money.
Nine million dollars. If for no other reason, the sheer amount of your cash they have should immediately demand your attention.
My point is that this kind of childish quibbling gets us nowhere. There are far more productive uses of our time. The elected officials have an enormous amount of work to do considering our current economic climate. Further, they were chosen by you not because of their political party, but because they campaigned tirelessly, ran a legitimate platform and set themselves apart with their own personal qualifications and experience.
I’m not affiliated with any campus political party, and I couldn’t really care less about them because I voted based on who had the right experience for the job. However, there are those who feel that based on election results, A.S. is “doomed” next year. If this is you, I implore you to realize just how many opportunities there are on this campus to get involved and make the changes you want to see happen instead of irrationally ranting to your 700 Facebook friends via an ill-thought-out status update.
Office of the Student Advocate constitutes a prime example of how to make a difference. You now have a fresh start to get involved in the office either as a caseworker or by working with our budding Restorative Justice campaign, which will hopefully be instituted as a part of the regular university judicial process by this time next year. If you are one of the people who was upset by the way A.S. was run this past year or the way the recent elections turned out, then you have no excuse but to become involved. I’m not an A.S. expert by any means, but I do know several new execs and reps closely, and all of them want to know what you have to say.
As a graduating senior, I can honestly tell you that working with the OSA was one of the most rewarding experiences of my four years here. The fact that I will leave a legacy in the office, albeit a very small one, means a tremendous amount to me and the experience I’ve gained working there is invaluable.
If you’re interested in the free services OSA provides for students or want to submit an application to work with us, please feel free to stop by our office in the MCC, next to the UCen, on Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Chase Fiedler is head of the Public Relations Office of the Student Advocate and proud of it.