ASUU is good for U

By By Jonathan Deesing

By Jonathan Deesing

The Associated Students of the University of Utah might be the most loathsome entity on campus. Of course, if you ask ASUU, The Daily Utah Chronicle just might take the cake.

The fact that ASUU is an organization put into power by the votes of less than 10 percent of students, operating with a budget of just less than $1.4 million nearly guarantees that it is fodder for criticism from many students. This publication, students and even potential parties hoping to be elected constantly criticize ASUU. Indeed, every year, most candidates run on a campaign of changing ASUU, which begs the question: If ASUU needs to be changed yearly, should we keep paying money to ensure its existence?

The answer, quite simply, is yes.

I am tempted to call ASUU a necessary evil, but for $45.04 a year, it isn’t even that. Evil is teaching babies how to smoke or sacrificing lizards. Patrick Reimherr hasn’t done either of those yet. A bunch of kids playing government isn’t evil, nor is it harmful to the student body.

Do I have contempt for ASUU? Sure. I think that using student fees to fund bi-monthly pizza parties masquerading as “board meetings” is ridiculous, albeit amusing. I think many ASUU members’ disconnection from the greater student body is worrisome and irresponsible.

But in light of recent studies conducted by an independent research firm, StudentVoice.com, I have become increasingly confident that ASUU is an important part of the U. The study, “Profile of Today’s College Student,” was conducted during the Spring 2008 semester to a random sample of students from 44 institutions of higher learning. It encompassed about 35,000 students, including 1,197 students from the U.

The study found that 47 percent of U students do not attend or participate in campus activities, compared with a national average of 28 percent. Moreover, 82 percent of the same students claimed no involvement or participation in student government. Whether or not these students knew that events such as RedFest and Rock the U are put on by ASUU is of little consequence. Also, the survey found that 75 percent of students work off campus. As a whole, students at the U are detached from their school.

It is in the best interest of ASUU to further student involvement on campus.

“Most members of ASUU genuinely care about the student body,” said ASUU Financial Adviser Rob Phillips. In the face of the belief that ASUU is full of apathetic résumé-builders: “Résumé building still needs accomplishments,” Phillips said.

Although those involved with student government might be building their résumés, without achievements next to those titles, they mean nothing.

Some claim that because we attend a commuter school, there is nothing ASUU can do about this trend. However, the study showed that although 81 percent of students live off campus, only 9 percent said that this was the reason they didn’t participate in campus activities.

ASUU can and does increase campus involvement. Whether it is through concerts, charities or lectures, ASUU is the most effective group at the U at promoting unity on campus, and for only $45.04 a year, that’s fine by me. If you don’t feel like you are getting your money’s worth out of ASUU, either you’re not trying, or you’re not paying attention.

So by all means, continue complaining about ASUU. But don’t do it under the impression that ASUU doesn’t help students. Because as crazy as they may seem, they still love U.

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Jonathan Deesing