Thursday, December 5

What’s your reflection?


Thursday, April 25, 1996

With the 1996 undergraduate student government elections getting
into full swing, the United Students slate contends it can
represent ‘all’ students. But can it? And just how?Representing
‘all’ students is a fallacy ­ concentrate on council’s
achievementsBy Stacy Lee

Can you represent ALL Bruins?

Can you represent those students that want to pay lower reg fees
to keep our education affordable and represent those students who
want to pay more so their education is "worth" more?

Can you represent the Asian American that supports affirmative
action and the Caucasian that opposes it?

These students all make up part of the UCLA student body. If you
claim to represent all Bruins, how do you reconcile these
differences?

During this student government election season, representation
seems to be an issue. Certain candidates seem to think they can
represent all Bruins. While I applaud their optimism and champion
their noteworthy cause, I cannot help but think their belief stems
from naïveté and inexperience.

As an elected representative, you are "constitutionally"
representative of all students, whether you’re Academic Affairs
commissioner or president. The tendency for those new to office is
to immediately set upon achieving this lofty goal.

In addition, they set their sights on the literal interpretation
of "representing all students" and search for ways to please
everyone, which they think will achieve the higher goal of unity as
well.

But reality quickly sets in for individuals who believe this.
They cannot please or "represent" both those that support and
oppose affirmative action. They cannot please or "represent" both
those that support and oppose higher reg fees. They cannot please
or "represent" both those that support and oppose lowering
financial aid. They cannot even please or "represent" both those
that support and oppose having a beat U$C bonfire.

At this point, many are overwhelmed with the responsibilities
and pressures of trying to represent everyone, and they begin to
retreat back into their offices. Hidden from the harsh reality that
students have differing opinions, they stare at the ceilings in
their offices and do nothing.

But even then you’re not safe. Because there are a lot of
students out there who WANT their student government officers to do
something! By doing nothing, you’re not representing their views.
By not taking a strong stance against those who oppose fee hikes,
you’re not representing those who want you to.

Clearly, then, we should not be too caught up with the word
"represent."

You can care about everyone. You can listen to everyone. You can
be open to everyone. You can even encourage dissenting opinions. In
fact, as a representative, you should do all these things. But,
when it comes right down to advocacy and actually accomplishing
something, you’re going to have to take a strong stand, and someone
is going to feel unrepresented.

Since you can’t technically represent all students, what can you
do? Well, it seems you can do what this year’s Students First!
council has done and prioritize issues that will affect all
students. These include fees, financial aid, affirmative action,
increased programming, more students services. These have been
prioritized by Students First!, and they have taken a strong
pro-student stance to ensure they actually accomplish what they set
out to accomplish.

When push comes to shove, you see the rhetoric of "representing
all Bruins" and accusations of not representing all students ring
empty. What I’d rather see are concrete victories and experience
which tells me my student government has done something.

Lee is a third-year environmental/geography studies student.

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