Taking Back Student Government

Chance Layton

Andrew Pessin is a Professor of Philosophy at Connecticut College. In June 2015, NAS released a statement supporting Professor Pessin’s “academic freedom in the face of controversy” when students and faculty members denounced him for comments he made about the terrorist group Hamas.

In a recent article, Professor Andrew Pessin proclaims that student government should be focused purely on matters affecting the student body. He observes that student activists tend to hijack student government and use their positions as a political weapon.

Dr. Pessin explains that when movements such as Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) visit colleges they leave “behind a campus in shambles.” And when these activists control student governments, “The result is typically a lot of hollering, tremendous divisiveness, individuals feeling marginalized and even attacked.”

To help students resisting the “efforts by angry activists to hijack their student governments,” Dr. Pessin offers a template resolution (which is available in the Huffington Post). Student governments that take up his proposed resolution would stick to “tackling issues that directly concern student life on campus,” and ensure that activists pursue their causes in other student organizations.

The best way to keep student governments productive and aligned with their intended purposes is to take Dr. Pessin’s advice and create safeguards against infiltration by those intent on advancing divisive special interests.

Image: McGill BDS launch by McGill Daily // CC BY

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