SGA must address low forum turnout

As evidenced by seemingly endless snowfalls, it’s still too chilly for the songs of crickets and cicadas.

But that might be news to the Student Government Association, whose recent forums have been greeted with rolling tumbleweeds and dead-of-night silence from the student body.

Though college students are notoriously apathetic about issues of public concern — and in this respect, Western is on the short list of the least-involved student bodies in the state — SGA must do more to stir the campus debate.

Too often, advance notice of a coming forum is relegated to bulletin boards and blurbs in the Herald. That’s better than nothing, but it’s obviously not working.

Recently, a mere four students bothered to discuss proposed student seating at the renovated Diddle Arena. Last semester, only about 40 attended a chat on the hot-button issue of on-campus parking.

With three more forums scheduled this semester, SGA members are scratching their heads.

We’d hate for SGA to eliminate these forums. They are among the very few opportunities students have to initiate change.

But college students are typically too distracted, disinterested and disinclined to throw themselves into a serious discussion.

So we suggest that SGA follow the lead of some of its mirror organizations at neighboring schools and take a more active approach in fostering student interest.

It’s time to pound the pavement.

In the weeks prior to a forum, SGA should deploy representatives to other campus groups — Greek organizations, Campus Activities Board, Baptist Student Union and Minority Student Support Services are just a few.

Begin the discussions by explaining how a particular issue affects students. Then gauge student interest, collect students’ thoughts and tailor the forum accordingly.

Such an approach would likely give SGA a built-in and better-prepared audience. And as word spreads from these groups to the rest of campus, forum attendance should grow.

After all, there’s nowhere to go but up.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member board of student editors.