Kalamazoo, MI
one-hundred-forty-one Years of Service to the Student


On the Dissolution of StuComm

(Robert Manor / Index)

Student Commission is currently facing an existential crisis. For years, StuComm has had issues with a large number of commissioner resignations, questions of how representative of the student body StuComm actually is, and whether or not StuComm is effective as an organization.

My generic ‘why’ for being on StuComm is that I want to help people, and I saw it as a place to do just that. The real reason came when, after everything that has happened in the past few months, I have not lost any desire to continue my work on StuComm.

The personal attack to many members of StuComm on the Google document last quarter was the biggest problem I faced last quarter

The attack ended up being personal for me- not because I was targeted by the hate speech, but because others, my friends and fellow students, were affected by it.

It’s awful that you can be attacked because of a personal trait you have no control over- something that people use to hurt you- and at the meeting in Stetson Chapel the day after the attack, I stood up in front of something like 500 people, offered my help to anyone who needed it, and then cried.

Commissioner or not, anything like that happening is a travesty, and I want to work to end it. I made a long post on Facebook about how the situation had unfolded in order to end the lack of general information regarding the attack.

Overall, it was personally painful, but it was where I realized that helping people understand and recover from what happened was something that I wanted to continue doing, which is why I am writing this piece.

Everyone agrees that StuComm is flawed. The differences in how to fix that, though, are where the issue gets heated, especially for me.

Last quarter, the Executive Board pushed for dissolution of the constitution, and I tried to hold it off and host a forum on the issue. We will be doing this again, followed by a campus-wide vote to determine whether or not the student body is in favor of the current structure.

I argue that we should dissolve only once a solid replacement plan has been discussed so that the campus isn’t left with some strange power vacuum.

StuComm has not been completely unproductive, but the current system keeps us, as an organization, from being the voice of the students that it needs to be.

A better StuComm needs to account for campus interest groups: racial, environment, artistic, etc.

I am concerned, though, about a couple of things.

The first is that we only have a limited amount of time in the year to make massive changes to StuComm. It’s going to take a lot of work from a lot of people to reshape it into the organization it should be.

The second concern is more personal. When I brought up keeping the process steady so that the student body could have a chance to be properly informed, an e-board member attacked me personally, calling my motives into question for suggesting areas where the current system could have worked better.

The irony of the situation is that all the commissioners are in accord that StuComm needs to be fixed. Personal attacks serve only to taint the discussion- implying that variance from the general opinion means that there is something fundamentally wrong with the person that introduced a new idea. This does not lead to a healthy discussion.

It’s of the utmost importance that, as we hold the conversations in the coming weeks, discussion remains calm and patient so we can get everyone on the same page and create a new government before the end of the academic year.

Chris Cribbs is a first year representative on the Student Commission and an Index staff writer.

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On the Dissolution of StuComm