Speeches on Main Hall Green

Before I begin, I’d like to utter a curse. To the person who stole my bike from the conservatory yesterday morning: you are bloated, inept, lousy in bed, and bad at Halo. I hope you have lots of children, because they will all grow up to hate you.Three weeks ago, several signs appeared without warning outside the three main dining rooms in Jason Downer Commons. The rooms were given names to match their letters. “A” became the “Appleton Room,” “B” the “Butte des Morts Room,” and “C” the “Chippewa Room.” Many students are displeased with these new names, and with good reason: they’re corny, in poor taste, and reflect a kind of insubstantial regionalism that plagues the unremarkable Fox Valley area.

But the most important fact here has been overlooked: Dining Services made the decision to rename the rooms, and they decided what the rooms would be called. And they made these decisions entirely without student input.

Once again, the university has gone over students’ heads in the decision-making process, making no effort to involve the student body. What is to ensure that student interests have been represented? Where were the committees? Where were the surveys on Lawrence Voyager?

This is an OUTRAGE! For years, the administration has been throwing its weight around and acting like they run Lawrence.

This is only the most recent offense in a long history of the administration overstepping its bounds and affecting student life in positive ways.

Take, for instance, formal group housing. Before formal group housing was instated, different organizations had different rules for acquiring housing. Fraternities maintained their traditional hold on their respective houses, leaving less established groups to duke it out for short-term theme houses.

But under the new rules, all groups are treated equally. What’s more, groups are evaluated from year to year and expected to conform to the university’s standards of decency. Evaluated!? It may well be appropriate for the administration to make sure a group performs all the community service they promised; but what about in personal affairs, things like vandalism, substance abuse, and date rape? Under Formal Group Housing, there is no protection against the university’s denying a group their time-honored residence for little indiscretions such as these. Where, I ask you, is the honor in an administration that would clamp down on the freedom of expression of toilet papering, keg stands, and ruffies? Obviously, there is no honor or decency in prohibiting these things. Besides, the university can’t just dictate facility use like that. It’s like they think they own the place!

And what about the campus-wide smoking ban that went into place last year? LUCC was “asked” by the administration to enact legislation banning smoking in all residence halls. But ultimately, the council had no choice whatsoever. The decision had already been made by the Warch administration, and LUCC was being treated as a figurehead. This was totally unjust. LUCC should have total control over student life at this university. The students have a right to make any and all important decisions about this institution. But instead, in the case of the smoking ban, the administration forced us to cease activities that were harmful to both students’ health and the health of university employees. What gives? Smoking restrictions are Draconian measures that are advocated by quack organizations like the American Medical Association. They have been enacted only in fascist states — states like the United Kingdom, Norway, New Zealand, and Japan. They exist in squalid third-world cities such as New York, Seattle, and – starting in 2007 – Washington, D.C. Clearly, no truly civilized communities have considered such drastic legislation. Smoking bans are so unpopular that in this very city, a smoking ban was passed earlier this year, even though the majority of voters supported this measure. That’s right: the majority supported it, and yet it passed.

Why would our own administration follow the example of these oppressive places and not give us a say? In the years prior to the Lawrence smoking ban, students participated in numerous surveys and focus groups aimed at addressing smoking issues on campus. Outside of these direct lines of communication with the administration, students have had no way of making their voices heard. Where, I ask you, is the student input in a task force committee that actually involves students in its decisions?

The unfairness of the Warch administration in issues such as Formal Group Housing and the smoking ban has carried over into the Beck administration. Consider the recent WLFM debacle. The administration sold our campus radio station’s FCC license to another party. And why? Was there any important reason? No! The decision was made merely to save the university hundreds of thousands of dollars on licensing and upkeep for the station. How can we, the students, be expected to respect the decisions of an administration that puts fighting bankruptcy ahead of the whims and desires of the student body? And where was the student input? A few years ago, a long-term planning board involving the station’s managers outlined the plans for the radio station’s possible reformatting. Several WLFM managers worked with the administration to design responses to possible scenarios in the station’s future. As you can see, no students — let alone those with an understanding of WLFM’s inner workings – ever had a chance to address the issue.

The administration is sapping power from the students in every area, blocking off student involvement at every turn. Oh yes, my friends, we may think we have control, but think again: who controls the funding of student organizations? Who controls what is discussed through campus media such as WLFM, The Lawrentian, and Tropos? Who decides which artists and performers can appear in campus venues like Riverview Lounge and the Underground Coffeehouse? Who constitutes, with the exception of faculty advisors, the entire body of committees that address campus issues from housing to punitive action against honor code and judicial code violations? Who has representatives on committees that control parking, tenure, honors, and the university curriculum? Who is pulling the strings in all of these situations? The students control or influence all of these. Can you see, then, how unfair the administration is to the student body?

We have a right to make these decisions. These things – how buildings are used, whether we’re allowed to smoke on other people’s property, whether we listen to college radio on the air or on the Web, and the names of the rooms in which we eat – these are integral facets of the college experience that will affect the patterns of our lives. We must take control. We must take control for the sake of our future, and hold Dining Services accountable.

The administration must stop making these rampant, unabashed decisions – decisions that positively affect student welfare, decisions that bolster the university community, and decisions that ensure the financial well-being of this institution.

We students were smart enough to get into college, and it’s about time somebody recognized that we’re smart enough to run one.