In the midst of ASUP’s internal struggles this year and continuing into this election cycle, there has been much talk of “making ASUP relevant again.” On the surface, it’s clear what this would mean providing visible and tangible support and action for the student body, and making it clear what this is and how to access it. But beyond the basics, increasing ASUP’s relevance is a rather amorphous desire with no obvious, singular solution. The Beacon Editorial Board would also like to see a more relevant ASUP, and we have considered several steps we hope to see next year’s Executive Board take in advancing this goal:
The first step to being relevant to students is basic communication. ASUP needs to find a way to have better back-and-forth communication with the student body and that means meeting students where they are. Office hours are great, but students don’t normally congregate or even pass by the ASUP office in St. Mary’s, which means they have to go out of their way to communicate with ASUP. Communication should be convenient. Students are already on social media, so ASUP should be more active on social media. Having an up-to-date website and an engaging social media presence would be solid first steps.
Communicating with students means being open to their concerns on platforms that are accessible to them, but it also means actively reaching out and keeping the student body informed of ASUP activity. Several ASUP members have written opinion submissions into The Beacon, and that’s the kind of communication we want to see from ASUP to the student body.
After ASUP communicates more effectively with students, their next job is to communicate more effectively with administration. This year, a lot of problems on campus have stemmed from a communication gap between students and administration. ASUP is supposed to bridge that gap. As the student liaisons on campus, ASUP already has unique lines of communication with administrators that the rest of the student body doesn’t have access to.
As Beacon staff members, oftentimes we only communicate with administration in the midst of some problem. But ASUP is talking with administration all the time (or should be), which gives them the opportunity to build rapport and develop stronger relationships. And that relationship and rapport should be used to make sure the administration hears the concerns of the students. One way that ASUP can have administration listen is by passing resolutions. There were no resolutions passed this year, which is a huge missed opportunity for ASUP and the student body. Whether it’s talking about race or mental health or advocating for professors’ salaries, ASUP has the power and the responsibility to keep administration informed of student concerns and vice versa.
Ultimately, ASUP shouldn’t have to make major changes to increase communication between students because ASUP is students. But sometimes we treat ASUP members as outside the student body, but they’re not. At the same time, as student leaders, members of ASUP have a responsibility to represent the student body and set a good example for the rest of the students. One way ASUP could become a better example for the rest of the school is to have their members attend multicultural events. Lack of attendance at multicultural events was an issue that came up at the racial inclusion discussion last week. ASUP members could help boost attendance and set an example for the student body by regularly attending important multicultural events on campus.
We would love to see ASUP work with students more. We would love to see ASUP working with Beacon staff members in the opinion section or engaging students on social media. We are all leaders on campus in some capacity - whether we’re co-captain of our intramural team or secretary for the anime club. And we can work together!