A face behind the name

David Busch

An inconsistent and out-of-place applause arose in the back of the Ratt. Though my Killian’s Red was satisfying, this incongruous applaud distracted my attention. I looked over and saw a student, overly dressed and, perhaps, overly excited, climb the couple steps of the stage. I felt embarrassed for him. The applause, though welcoming, was awkward. People didn’t know who he was, and after his speech, no one knew he was finished or what his main points were. They were glorified and unrealistic dreams for Kent’s campus. I have to admit, though, if I was up there, I would give the same quixotic speech.

He came down from the stage and quickly walked back to his seat, comforted by his friends and “supporters.” The fluorescent light glimmered off his gelled hair and silver tie. It made me kind of sick.

A couple minutes later, another young student came to the podium. She uncomfortably climbed the stage in her excessively high heels. I didn’t know what she was trying to prove. Again, a superficial applause arose from the small and confused crowd. They were supportive of the event — at least it seemed. Perhaps the uncomfortable feel was due to the fact that only a select number of people knew who each person was.

I went back to drinking my beer, enjoying a simple conversation with a couple friends. As the beer continued to flow and our conversation became louder in tone with each sip of beer, I felt we were disturbing something. We soon found out the event was for student government. These were stump speeches to get elected. Although I should know and recognize these faces because of the Kent Stater’s effort of highlighting candidates each week, I was admittedly ignorant of who they were. My friends’ faces agreed.

Our conversation turned to student government — whether consciously or not is a different question. My friend argued that the work it does is very good for campus. I couldn’t have agreed more. I am an avid reader of the New York Times on campus, and if it wasn’t for Undergraduate Student Government’s continuous support of the readership program, I’d be sulking over the lost comfort of the newspaper between my fingers.

Student government has also started the stand-up comedy nights Thursdays in the Ratt, sponsored local musicians and brought the Broken Lizard Disorientation tour this past fall. They have also been continuing Flashfest each spring, though the musical line-ups have gone down over the years. Moreover, student government is the small voice in the ears of the administrators on campus. Admittedly, student government enriches the experience here at Kent State.

However, as I adamantly argued with the arrogant beer flowing through my blood, the student government needs to get out on campus more, create a bigger name and face for itself. This debate should be held on a warm spring day when the esplanade is filled with the flow of students, awakened from the slumber of winter. The students could then see the candidates, hear the issues and choose to care or not to care. The Risman Plaza would then be more than a concrete slab but a true public sphere of debate, exemplifying the glory of university. The students would be more connected with the issues of the student government, the candidates and their relationship to the administration.

The next day in a class of mine, a petition sheet circulated. When it finally reached me, my curious excitement turned to disappointment. The sheet was asking for signatures for an individual to run for student government. I didn’t know what the person looked like, what her ideals were or why she ventured to run. I didn’t know the person, so I didn’t sign. I support USG, but how candidates are chosen and represented needs to change.

Last spring when elections were held, voter turn-out was minuscule considering the size of Kent State. If USG wants to be truly representative of the student body, debates such as the one held in the Ratt need to be more publicized and held in areas where all students can be involved, not just select friends or fellow candidates. I need a face behind the name.

David Busch is a senior psychology and history major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].