When I was a kid, I played soccer. Now, when I say play, I mean that in the loosest of terms, as my version of soccer involved my eight-year-old self jogging up and down the field giving my parents a big grin and a proud thumbs-up. I was happy to be out there, regardless of whether I was actually contributing or not. And at the end of the season, once again regardless of a team’s performance, everybody got a small trophy simply for participating.
Now, for the world of fragile third-graders, this philosophy is great. It teaches kids teamwork and saves them the agony of defeat for later on when they can more aptly “handle it,” like in high school. But it seems to me that idea should have faded away long before a student steps on a college campus. Unfortunately, it seems to be alive and kicking, especially within the ranks of the Washburn Student Government Association.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against WSGA. I’m happy to see Safe Ride back in action, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to pick-up a New York Times for the latest news. But it seems to me that amongst all the diversity that WSGA prides itself on having between its members is a factor that is lacking for great ideas to be created, flourish and grow. That element is competition.
In the last WSGA election, there were 27 senator seats up for grabs. But with only 35 people running, it made me wonder how many of those elected actually earned a spot and how many received it as an award just for participating in the election. Granted, there were eight candidates who didn’t quite make the cut, but to say someone would have a hard time getting a seat is ridiculous. Of the 27 senate votes I was given, I used less than 10 of them. Not because I’m apathetic about voting, but simply because I hadn’t heard anything from or about over half of those on the ballot.
As best said by Andrew Carnegie, “while the law [of competition] may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.”
I’m all for diversity on the student senate, and I think it would be great if more people got out and cast their vote for the future of WSGA. However, I think a big hindrance to both of those ideas is the utter lack of difficulty it takes to gain a seat. Without adversity, ideals, thoughts and goals become weak and unmotivated. The best solution to prevent this is to simply reduce the number of senators. Greater competition for seats would mean those running would have to make more of an effort to voice their ideas to the student body to help them stand out from the crowd. In essence, competition would ensure those who truly want to make a difference will get the seat, rather than those just looking to pad their resume.