The Chronicle’s View: ASUU says sayonara to student opinions

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“Student support” is a bit like King Arthur’s Excalibur.

The bearer of this force wields supreme clout at the U-possessing the ability to change important university policy without the slightest risk of harm.

Every campus organization desires this enigmatic empowerment, only there’s one huge problem:

Nobody knows how to get the damned sword out of the stone.

The latest feeble tug comes from the Associated Students of the University of Utah in the form of a student survey on raising student fees for fine arts and study abroad programs at the U.

ASUU sent an e-mail to all U students and received a startlingly large response (7,800 voters). According to the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis, 51 percent of students favored paying an additional $5 each semester for fine arts productions-which easily gained ASUU Senate approval, but denied by the Assembly-but 58 percent opposed paying more for study abroad efforts.

Since this e-mail provided a link to a central polling page that was universally accessible, students (or anyone) had the privilege of voting as often as they wished. The Chronicle detected this obvious flaw in polling procedure beforehand in an unsigned editorial (“Student polls are inaccurate,” Feb. 8) and subsequently cautioned student leaders against drawing concrete conclusions.

Student Body President Jake Kirkham now agrees that the survey wasn’t indicative of the student voice-but only because he didn’t receive the results he wanted. Kirkham was far less concerned about the survey’s accuracy beforehand.

Now Kirkham pledges to educate the students about the content of the fee increase (apparently, our collective lack of intelligence, not obvious statistical discrepancies, is the real problem with the poll).

How will Kirkham know when he has “educated” students enough, you ask? By getting out on the street and holding personal interviews? By using the U’s many professional resources to conduct a serious statistical analysis of the student body’s views?

Nope. Kirkham simply hopes to sway student legislators on his own accord, without the use of any messy polls. He thinks he can better gauge student support by not leaving the office. If Kirkham can convince the ASUU Senate and the General Assembly to do his bidding, what more could students want?

What a horribly misguided conclusion. Instead of waiting to see if its pathetic attempts at gauging support work to their favor for future issues, ASUU should acknowledge its error and pledge to take a more responsible approach to representing student interests.