The role of student governments in campus decision-making is always a difficult one -- administrators are often reluctant to entrust responsibility for truly important decisions to students, leaving the student body's elected representatives to serve either as consultants with little leverage or as pointmen on projects of limited significance. Last year's UA set an admirable example in this respect on several occasions, particularly through its role in encouraging the renovation of Rosengarten Reserve Library and the funding of subsidized legal counsel for students enmeshed in disputes with their landlords. Again this year, a number of issues seem ripe for student involvement. Perhaps most importantly, we hope the UA stands by its pledge to work with the administration on the implementation of last spring's Final Report of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse, including bringing a full-service video store to campus and increasing the number of social and recreational options available to students of all ages. The UA's ongoing work with SEPTA also has the potential to produce beneficial results, including an increase in the number of token machines on campus. Unfortunately, last year's example is not an entirely positive one. One area which needs to be improved is the UA's sensitivity to the surrounding community, which hit a low point with the distribution of "Am I a Target?" stickers in the wake of last fall's Steinberg-Dietrich assault. Also, it seems unlikely that efforts to involve the UA in increasing financial aid packages will prove productive. While Michael Silver, this year's chairperson, is absolutely correct to note that Penn must prop up its aid packages, the UA is not in a position to substantially contribute to the discussion. Finally, we fully expect that the attendance problems of previous years will not repeat themselves this year. The crippling absence levels of years past -- notably, not a problem for last year's UA -- damage both the credibility of the UA and the ability of its members to do their jobs properly.Comments powered by Disqus
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