By: Andrew Breschard
Do student governments serve the needs of students? Or do they simply act as self-serving left-wing echo chambers?
Student governments are now rarely about representing the interests of the student body. They exist, rather, to the benefit of those who run them. They are used to promote a leftist agenda, squash voices of dissent, and to make unimportant people feel important. During my time at Gettysburg College, I have witnessed exactly this; a student government that is far more interested in pushing rhetoric and making themselves look good rather than fulfilling their own mission statement.
Having observed Student Senate meetings for most of the past year and having heard complaints from other members of the Gettysburg community, I argue that the senate fails to fulfill their mission to be unifying, responsible, an advocate for the student body, and to promote student excellence. For a long time they have not achieved any of this.
As a conservative student on campus, it is clear that the senate is anything but unifying. It has been filled with social justice initiatives aimed at increasing “inclusion” of groups perceived as underrepresented. The first notable example of this during the past year was the introduction of the “Inclusion Officer” position. During the discussion regarding the position, I and several others voiced concerns regarding the senate’s decision to only include clubs that they felt were culturally diverse and underrepresented under the purview of the inclusion officer position, while excluding conservative groups which experience high levels of hostility.
It did not take long for this to become clear. During the middle of election week for president and vice president of the senate, candidate Miranda Zamora, a member of Young Americans for Freedom, was targeted by other students who implied that she, an Asian woman, is racist, solely on the basis of her involvement with YAF, including following the YAF account on Instagram.
Furthermore, the senate has attempted to remove any semblance of personal responsibility in student life by demanding that the college fund a 24/7 free Plan-B vending machine on campus. It is clear that Senate feels that students should not be responsible for their actions, nor suffer any consequences whatsoever.
For decades, these organizations on college campuses across the country have been weaponized to promote a leftist ideology while silencing dissenting voices. At University of Virginia in the fall of 2020, the student government attempted to push their leftist ideology upon professors when they created a ‘strike system’ for professors who offend students, and attacked a member of Young Americans for Freedom for opposing this policy. Later in 2020, the student government at Cornell University attempted to disarm their campus police. When the resolution failed, the student government purged several senators who voted against it.
Both at Gettysburg and across the country, student governments are divisive, unrepresentative, and incompetent advocates for the student bodies and the mission of higher education. Student governments must begin welcoming ideologically diverse voices, engaging more of their campus communities, holding themselves accountable, and promoting policies that are truly in the best interest of their constituents.
Andrew Breschard is the chapter chairman of Gettysburg College YAF and serves as a William & Berniece Grewcock Intern Scholar at Young America’s Foundation this summer.