Archive for March, 2004

NCAA Division I Final Four

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | Sports Staff
Bernell Dorrough

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Students help democracy stick on campus, in city

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | Liz Neukirch

Junior Teresa Sullivan spent last night handing out coupons.

Not the most exiting thing to do on a Tuesday evening, perhaps-but per a partnership with St. Louis Project Democracy (SLPD), Crazy Bowls agreed to give 20 percent of purchases to the group for each patron who presented a coupon.

Sullivan, Washington University’s Project Democracy intern, is the founder and director of the St. Louis branch of the national non-partisan voter mobilization effort. SLPD is in the midst of its “Rock the Vote” campaign on campus this week, and members of the group have already registered approximately 90 new voters by dorm storming on the South 40 Monday night.

“Our main focus is to register people to vote in Missouri because it is a swing state…and it will be easier for [students] to vote while at school,” Sullivan said of their efforts.

Sophomore Julia Desmond also stressed Missouri’s importance in the upcoming presidential elections.

“A lot of people at Wash. U. are registered at home, but those states may always vote for one party or another,” she said. “If they vote in Missouri, it can make a big difference [in the outcome of the election].”

At tonight’s SLPD kickoff meeting at 9:30 in Lambert Lounge, representatives from the group will answer questions about their mission, both on campus and in the greater St. Louis area, and explain how students can get involved in voter mobilization.

“[The meeting] will be a planning session for all of the educational events we’ll be doing this semester, and a brainstorming session for the fall, when things will really kick into gear,” Sullivan said.

The group will be registering voters at WILD later this month, having an Earth Day forum to make students aware of environmental issues, and educating students about absentee voting at a study break during Reading Week.

“We want to demystify one of the more confusing aspects of the voting process,” Sullivan said, stressing the importance of young voter registration.

After finding out about Project Democracy from a University graduate who is friends with organization’s founders, Sullivan decided to start the SLPD chapter. In its first year at the University, the organization hopes to form collaborations with other groups.

“We’re trying to build coalitions with other campus political groups, and we’re also a part of the presidential debate planning committee,” Sullivan said.

She and Desmond, along with freshman Danya Ganyacheskis-Gold and junior Aaron Seligman, went on an alternative spring break trip to Orlando with Project Democracy earlier this month. They learned grassroots organizing skills, registered new voters, and canvassed about issues for the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, which supports Project Democracy.

“We learned about issues that are applicable to young voters right now, and registered voters in poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods that are usually underrepresented,” Desmond said. “We left with a solid foundation…for how to make a difference in this upcoming election.”

Sullivan noted that the conference made her realize Project Democracy is a nationwide effort.

“There were hundreds of activists there from campuses across the country-and most have Project Democracy programs. We’re part of a national trend. We know we’re not alone in this effort to get young voters out to the polls,” she said.

Her favorite part of the conference was a speech given by “Granny D,” a 94-year-old activist who walked from California to Washington D.C. to advocate for campaign finance reform at the age of 90. She is currently on a mission to mobilize voters for the upcoming election.

SLPD will wrap up its “Rock the Vote” campaign with voter registration at Happy Hour in the Gargoyle tomorrow and non-partisan grassroots organizing training at Camp Wellstone April 2-4.

“It’s another venue for us to refine our grassroots organizing skills and [learn] how to be better activists for the causes we champion,” Sullivan said.

Interested students can register online at

SWA pressures University to change ways

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | Sarah Kliff

This week, Washington University’s Student Worker Alliance (SWA) is sponsoring events to promote awareness of working conditions both on campus and abroad.

The planned programs include forums on Monday and Wednesday, a “Boot the Bell” boycott of Taco Bell Tuesday, and a silent march on Thursday to demand the return of 36 Nicaraguan workers who recently lost their jobs at the University. The week will culminate in Friday’s Living Wage Rally at noon in Brookings Quad.

One of the group’s main goals is to promote awareness about living costs in St. Louis.

“We need students to realize that workers are not making enough money to live on,” said junior Ojiugo Uzoma, a member of the SWA. “They can’t put money in a savings account, save for their children’s college education, or afford health insurance. Many are living in poverty. They are working two or three jobs and don’t have time to spend with their families.”

According to Uzoma and fellow SWA member senior Katie Castellano, Bon App‚tit, the University’s food services employer, and Top Care, which employs grounds workers, do not pay their workers living wages. Quadrangle, the company that employs the custodians on the South 40, pays near-living wages. Aramark, which hires all main campus custodial staff, recently raised wages by a dollar per hour with the help of the Washington University administration.

Castellano believes that although the University has responded to the group’s actions, there is still much that has to be done

“The University is responding and has set up a task force on campus,” she said. “But we’re still running into problems such as the high turnover rates in many of our campus’s employers.”

Senior Sergio Salmeron, an active member of the SWA, is also one of two University students with seats on the task force.

“At the last meeting, the SWA made a presentation to the task force about the living wage and why we should respond to it,” said Salmeron. “Basically, we advocated that there are advantages [to increasing worker pay]-it would decrease absenteeism and turnover rate, boost low moral, and create a sense of community.”

Salmeron added that other local universities are paying higher hourly wages to outsourced employees.

“St. Louis University is paying janitors a minimum of $11.77 an hour,” he said. “[Our university] has a long way to go. [We] excel in academics and research but we need to show that we care about the community. These people are living below the poverty line…working for a prestigious university that can afford to pay them more.”

Katie Castellano believes that while living wages are the main goal, there are other issues to be dealt with.

“We want to make students more aware of how lucky they are,” she said. “We’re so privileged to have these people working for us and serving us and we really need to realize that.”

SWA, along with Amnesty International and Student Union, is participating in the campaign as part of the Week of Action sponsored by the Student Labor Action Project, a national worker’s right’s movement.

The SWA, founded in November 2003, aims to “protect workers and empower students, workers, faculty, and the community to fight for workers’ rights.”

Additional reporting by Kelly Donahue.

“23 Minutes” debuts on WUTV

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | David Tabor
Bernell Dorrough

“23 Minutes,” a new WUTV interview talk show, is scheduled to air its second episode next Tuesday. Each episode features a different guest interviewed on the topic of his or her expertise by the show’s host, junior David Rogier.

Rogier, who is also show’s creator, modeled it after interviews conducted on C-SPAN and other politically-minded programming; “23 Minutes” itself, however, will not be limited to politics. The show’s goal is simply to interview guests who can provide an interesting yet informed opinion.

“There are people here [in the Washington University academic community] who have so much to offer,” said Rogier, describing his vision for the show.

Preparation for each show has required some extensive research. Both Rogier and the show’s content directors, who assist him in preparing questions, face a difficult task in accumulating a depth of knowledge about each guest.

Content directors first work to attain an understanding of general information about each planned topic of discussion, Rogier explained, then divide the guest’s body of published works among themselves.ÿ

Political science Professor Stephen Smith, the guest on the episode filmed this week, has published many articles and books. Rogier and the content directors attempted to familiarize themselves with many of them before preparing questions.

“Our guests give better answers when we give more directed questions,” he said.

Many of the questions used on the show actually begin with a quotation from the guest’s own work.ÿ Often, the guest is then asked to defend or expand upon that point.ÿ The written list of questions from which Rogier reads also includes excerpts from both supporters and detractors, so follow-up questions delve deeply into the issue at hand.

Rogier developed the idea for the show over winter break, noting that many of the faculty possess an expertise in their specialties rivaling experts on political talk shows.

While the show is considering religion and science as future topics, Rogier acknowledged that the show naturally lends itself to a political discussion, as per the C-SPAN shows from which it draws.ÿ As he refined the concept, he focused on making the show accessible to the average viewer.

“A major concern was how to make this show appealing to people who aren’t interested in politics,” Rogier said.

The show’s 23-minute format was chosen specifically to avoid a lengthy and potentially boring discussion. The introductory montage likewise works to engage the viewer, featuring interesting sound bytes from the upcoming episode.

Rogier noted that he tries to minimize the effect his own political biases have on the questions he asks. As he explained, having the content directors work together to create questions helps to minimize biases, since a diversity of opinion makes any biased question more obvious.

“[Viewers] are watching to learn what the guest thinks, anyway,” said Rogier.

Future shows are being planned, and the show hopes to run regularly on Tuesday nights through the end of the year. Much of the production staff already plans on returning to work on the show next year.

Rogier is currently in contact with several potential guests.

“We want people who are intelligent yet charismatic. That’s the kind of person that viewers will want to watch,” he said, describing the type of guests the show is seeking.

Rocca rocks Graham

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | Emily Tobias

Self-proclaimed “fundit” Mo Rocca, best known for his work on “The Daily Show” and “I Love the Eighties,” spoke to a full audience in Graham Chapel yesterday afternoon that roared with laughter from the moment he opened his mouth.

He began his speech with a joke especially geared toward the Washington University community.

“I have nothing left to say, except that I am here to audition for ‘Missionary Positions,'” said Rocca.

Using a PowerPoint presentation with pictures, along with some of his own video clips from “The Daily Show” and “The O’Reilly Factor,” Rocca entertained the audience with his views on current issues such as the Democratic presidential candidates, gay marriage, and his personal love for visiting presidential graves and former homes.

“We wanted something that would have a high turnout,” said sophomore Erica Rosen, speaker of the CS40, about planning the event. “We wanted a speaker that could provide both knowledge and humor and really get through to the students, and we thought that [Rocca] was one of the perfect icons.”

If the volume of the audience’s laughter as Rocca went through a slide show of pictures of presidential candidates is any indication, Rosen and her affiliates made the right decision. Rocca noted that Gephardt would have been the first “albino” president, and Edwards the first “fourteen-year-old” president.

After showing a series of political pictures, he turned back to his own career, talking about his most recent projects on VH1’s “I Love the Seventies,” “I Love the Eighties,” and “Best Week Ever.”

In speaking about his work on “The Daily Show,” Rocca shared what he believes people find funny.

“Certainly a lot of [humor] is [in the show’s] content. When Stephen Colbert interviews somebody who runs a UFO welcome center in South Carolina, it’s going to be funny,” he said.

Rocca also explained how he came to be a Daily Show reporter and fake journalist.

He mentioned his work in Kabuki theatre in Japan, a stint as a roller-skating waiter, and how he acted in several plays, including playing Doody in a production of “Grease” that toured Southeast Asia.

“We were standing room only in Jakarta,” said Rocca.

He then ran through the rest of his careers in television including working for the television series “Wishbone.” At the same time, Rocca was also working as a consulting editor for the magazine “Perfect 10,” which features women who have not had breast implants.

“Kids’ TV by day, soft-core pornography by night, yada, yada, yada, you’ve heard it all before-I was bored,” he said.

One of the funniest pictures in Rocca’s PowerPoint presentation was one of Rutherford B. Hayes’ old dorm room at Kenyon, which was a typical shot of some very stoned-looking boys in a filthy dorm room. Rocca referred to them as the “custodians of the room,” however, adding that they were watching “Half-Baked” when the picture was taken.

After showing a segment from his reporting days at “The Daily Show,” Rocca went on to speak about his work as a contributor on news shows such as “The O’Reilly Factor.”

“One of the benefits I have enjoyed… is that I get invited onto a lot of supposed real news shows,” said Rocca.

After finishing his speech by taking questions from the audience, reactions from students and faculty alike were very positive.

“[Rocca] covers a broad spectrum, so we were able to pull people in from all different areas of pop culture, news and media, but then everybody was pleasantly surprised by what he had to say,” Rosen said.

Film and Media Studies professor Jeff Smith, who introduced Rocca, could not have been happier.

“I thought it was great-everything I expected and more,” he said.

Download Student Libel

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | Student Libel Staff
Bernell Dorrough

Looking for crazy stories about murdered bunnies, EST’s new religious competition, and the effect of the DC shutdown on students’ masturbatory habits? You’ve come to the right place!

Student Libel is our annual April Fool’s Issue. This year, we’re offering it online in Adobe PDF format, so you won’t miss a single innuendo.

Click here to download the file.

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | Becky Reid

Exec silence was calculated, reasonable

Dear Editor:

While I applaud the staff of Student Life for not dismissing the upcoming executive compensation amendment without second glance, I must admit that I am appalled by the declaration that Student Union has been secretive with this issue and my representation as a fearsome, clandestine ogre.

The criticism of my actions failed to mention motives beyond trying to “restrict access to information on the issue.” As I had explained, and was reported in Friday’s edition, having executive candidates express opinions on the amendment allows them to claim they will “do it for free” and that they “don’t need the money,” providing a direct challenge to the fairness of the election for both executives and the amendment. You claim that candidates refused to comment out of fear of breaking a potential election rule.ÿThis is blatantly false-candidates cannot campaign, verbally or otherwise, before the campaign period begins.ÿAs fear-inducing as I may be, candidates were simply following a basic and established rule. ÿ

As you correctly reported, the candidates themselves unanimously agreed not to comment on the issue.ÿAgain, somewhat conveniently, motive was deemed unimportant.ÿ The candidates are afraid that personal preferences will be used against them, by either other candidates or Student Life, to polarize the candidates and cloud the legitimate reasons to vote.ÿThat being said, why would they go contrary to “the interest of transparent government?” I most certainly agree, as does Student Life, that those with power should be held accountable for their beliefs and actions.

Unfortunately, more information that I provided was selectively omitted from your critique. Armed with the Student Union constitution and a rudimentary level of common sense, it is verified that executives have no influence whatsoever on the issue of executive compensation. Rightfully so, a president cannot set his or her pay.ÿThus, what a candidate believes has no bearing at all; the only use of expressing such an opinion is negative.ÿWhy would a candidate want to express an opinion that can only be opportunistically seized by a rival or spun out of proportion by Student Life?ÿ Furthermore, why would a voter want to base his decision on things a candidate cannot constitutionally do?ÿ

With these fears out in the open, it should be fairly obvious why there was a secret ballot at the Senate session.ÿThe ballot was used to protect those executive candidates who also happen to be Senators from indirectly expressing their beliefs to the audience, including Student Life reporters.ÿI would like to praise the executive candidates for being so vigilant in protecting the fairness of this election.ÿAlthough I wish I could commend Student Life for giving a thoughtful critique of this issue, this terrifying ogre cannot help but choke on the disinformation upon which, unfortunately, a frightful amount of students will base their voting decisions and opinions of Student Union.

Spencer Young
Student Union Election Commissioner

Execs respond

Dear Editor:

We, as the four outgoing senior SU execs, would like to clarify some issues before you vote today or tomorrow. Monday’s Student Life staff editorial presented information regarding executive compensation (seconnd Constitutional amendment on the WebSTAC ballot) in a biased and misleading manner. Particularly, we want to clarify that we are making every effort to be transparent and open (not “secretive”) about this change because it is legitimate and critical to the validity of our student government. If we wanted to be secretive, we would have created a special election-which is less publicized and has much lower voter turnout. Instead, we timed this with the Spring SU Election-our most visible, most publicized election with the greatest voter turnout.

Also to clarify, the candidates for executive office chose not make this amendment a campaign issue for two reasons: (1) ultimately, if elected, they have no say in setting compensation (that falls to Senate and Treasury) and (2) we would all rather see the amendment delayed than watch campaigning turn into “Vote for me-I’d do it for free.” The purpose of this amendment is to allow ALL students, regardless of financial circumstances, the ability to serve you.

Contrary to what was presented in a letter to the editor, CS40 executives are indeed compensated, to the tune of $7,000 (free room of their choice on the S40).

We are disconcerted that Student Life would choose to oppose this amendment so strongly and with such little research, since the Student Life editorial staff receives biweekly paychecks for their work on the paper. This allows them the luxury of relaxing work obligations in order to participate in the paper and serve campus.

The four of us are available to talk to you about any concerns you have before voting via email, IM, or in person.

Michelle Miller, SU President
Kenneth Edwards, SU Vice President
Rob Stolworthy, SU Treasurer
Justin Huebener, SU Treasurer

Editor’s Clarification: Student Life staffers are indeed paid, but their payment comes from ad sales, not the student activities fee or other University funds. SU executives, if the compensation amendment passes, would be paid from the student activities fee.

Backing up birth control

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | Becky Reid

Last week a number of Washington University students participated in Back Up Your Birth Control Day, an event organized by Planned Parenthood to highlight the problem of limited access to emergency contraception (EC), also known as “the morning after pill.” Volunteers throughout the state surveyed pharmacies to determine which ones carry emergency contraception. Of the nine pharmacies closest to campus, I found that six do stock the emergency contraception pill Plan B; this was an extremely high ratio compared to only 31 percent of the 250 Missouri pharmacies contacted last week. Although I was pleased to learn of the many pharmacies in our community that do carry EC, it is clear that there are still many hurdles women face when trying to access this important resource.

Two of the most common reasons pharmacies do not stock Plan B are lack of information about EC and moral objection: a pharmacist I spoke to at Jennifer’s Pharmacy in Clayton claimed she did not know it was out there and that I was the first to ask for it. This is troubling considering Plan B has been FDA-approved for almost five years now.

Another pharmacist at SuperSchnucks on Clayton Rd. responded, “It is not ethical. It prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg and that is abortion.” At first I thought she was confusing EC with RU486, also known as “the abortion pill,” but after further discussion, it became clear that she was imposing a personal, perhaps religious, ideology on a mechanism that is medically defined as contraception, not abortion.

In fact, EC prevents pregnancy the same way as other hormonal contraceptive methods, such as the pill, by delaying ovulation, inhibiting fertilization, or preventing implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterine lining; it will not affect an existing pregnancy. Since EC is a preventative measure, the sooner it is taken after intercourse, the more effective it will be. When taken within 72 hours, it is 75-89% effective. Clearly this is an important back-up for partners whose primary method of birth control has failed, or in instances of unprotected intercourse, including rape.

In Missouri, health care providers are allowed to refuse writing and filling prescriptions for EC due to the “Conscience Clause,” a state law ensuring that people cannot be forced to participate in medical procedures to which they object for reasons of conscience. Unfortunately, this law has serious implications throughout the state of Missouri and here on campus. Recently, there have been reports of students being refused EC over the weekend when fewer staff are on duty. Dr. Glass, the new Director of Student Health Services, expressed a great deal of concern about the issue when I brought it up with him last Wednesday. Although he is still gathering information, Dr. Glass affirmed that “A woman’s right to EC is a basic right and health care on college campuses have an obligation to facilitate that.”

In the meantime, students should be informed about their options. If staff at health services refuse to prescribe or fill EC, ask them to call the Clinical Director or Dr. Glass, who will then write a prescription. To fill the prescription, both Ladue and Olive Schnucks (on the Green Shuttle line) carry Plan B, as well as the Clayton and Olive Walgreens and Williams Pharmacy, located behind Hi-Tech copiers (within walking distance). For more information, go to or call 1-888-NOT-2-LATE.

Finally, regarding the pharmacist at Clayton Schnucks, whose rude, moralistic and condescending attitude motivated me to write about this issue, I would encourage students who care about a woman’s right to EC to discontinue any business with her pharmacy. Her comments and beliefs about EC are not founded within the wider medical community, she was rude and unprofessional over the phone, and she viewed student use of EC as “irresponsible,” claiming that throughout her experience in the pharmaceutical industry, she has found that EC is used as a first recourse to pregnancy prevention, not a back up method. This last statement reflects a very negative attitude about students and their capacity for responsible sexual behavior.

This pharmacist’s refusal to supply a perfectly legal form of contraception interferes with a woman’s right to prevent a pregnancy. As a nearby community of consumers that make up a sizable portion of her business, we can let her know that good health care providers facilitate patient access to the full range of legal, medically approved options available, not just those that are personally approved by a provider.

How to save endangered species

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | Michael Bowers

When considering the plight of species like the spotted owl or the Stephen’s kangaroo rat, there’s a novel approach to the problem that no one has seriously considered. I know others before me have suggested it, but I think the idea bears repeating: we should start eating them. I cannot say that I’ve tasted a kangaroo rat, but I’m sure that with the proper seasonings it could be made to taste wonderful. By the same token, we ought to revive the trade of ivory harvested from elephants and rhinoceroses, the whaling industry, and encourage the development of other animal-based products. Who knows, bald eagle eggs could become a breakfast favorite.

These suggestions are not made in jest, either. Instead, they represent a novel approach to solving the crisis faced by these and many other species across the world. The real problem with the current approach to saving endangered species is tied up in two facts: First, I don’t care about most of these animals.

I know it sounds cruel, but I really don’t have any care for most of the endangered species. I mean, I’d probably be willing to put up a bit of money to save the lion or the tiger from extinction. Just knowing that those animals around gives me some benefit that I’d be willing to pay to have. The problem comes with creatures like the kangaroo rat.

Now, I’ve never seen a kangaroo rat. Nor do I have a burning desire to actually see a kangaroo rat. In fact, should the entire species disappear from the face of the earth, I can’t say that I’d lose any sleep over it. Why? I don’t get any benefit from this animal’s continued existence, so I really don’t care what happens to it.

How can this situation change? By giving the rat some value. If the thing became a delicacy, then I’d actually have a vested interest in keeping it around, either because I liked eating them or because I liked raising them to sell to others to eat. Regardless, I would suddenly care a great deal about keeping the kangaroo rat alive and well.

The situation of the African elephant certainly illustrates this concept. After years of trying to halt elephant hunting, African countries began to realize that no amount of control could stave off the poachers. The solution reached by several of these countries was to legalize limited elephant hunting, with the proceeds from the individual hunting licenses going to finance public works like schools and roads. Suddenly, everyone involved had a vested interest in keeping the elephant alive. The hunters could legally kill the animals and harvest the ivory and the people within a country would want to keep the populations intact so as to continue to collect hunting revenues. Everyone wins, even the elephant.

A similar occurrence happened to the American alligator after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed their commercial breeding. Wild alligator populations have now exploded, while alligator farmers are doing quite well. Again everyone wins.

Under the current Endangered Species Protection Act, though, everyone loses. Those who discover endangered species on their property have no incentive to keep the animals alive, since, if they do, they are barred from doing anything that would destroy the habitats of the animals. Consider the spotted owl in the northwest part of the U.S. Due to the animal’s protected habitats, timber companies are unable to harvest from certain areas, with sales losses reaching nearly $24 billion, as reported in a study conducted by the University of California, Santa Barbara. Or the giant Delhi Sands fly recently found in planned enterprise zone in San Bernardino County in California, which is being considered for listing as an endangered species. If it is, the 20,000 jobs the zone would create will be lost.

The current economic cost of protecting the endangered species of this country is staggering. Current legislation only encourages the ‘shoot, shovel, shut up’ approach already adopted by many land owners. Instead, why not consider finding tangible value in these species so that their existence is beneficial to those who find them. After all, when was the last time you heard of an endangered cow?

The state of the union

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004 | Mia Eisner-Grynberg

In truly democratic nations, Election Day can legitimately be described as one of the most important days of the year. On a regular schedule, a nation’s citizens convene to set the course of the nation for the next couple of years. In the best case scenario, when we vote for executives, we vote not only for individuals, but for the policies and proposals they represent. Ideally, in the United States, we have a four-year referendum on questions of war and peace, jobs and unemployment, health care and government spending, education and taxation.

On the Washington University campus, our process is arguably even more democratic: once a year, we elect a new core of Student Union executives to represent our interests to the University. In any student’s four-year experience here, he or she can reasonably expect to be served by four different “administrations,” each carrying the potential ability to redirect the course of the University. Today, on our own Election Day, it is only appropriate to evaluate not only the individual candidates running, but also the very State of the (Student) Union itself.

In my four years here, the voracity with which students and slates of students have campaigned for Student Union executive positions suggest that those wishing to fill the posts take these elections very seriously. Unless it is raining today (every potential SU exec’s greatest campaign nightmare), every speck of open sidewalk is undoubtedly covered with a sea of colors advertising this slate over that, this president over that, and, in all likelihood, this sexual innuendo suggesting a candidate over that. Throngs of students will fill American Politics 101 and Chemistry 112 with iron-on transfers of their friends and floormates on their backs. In the technological revolution of the past four years, we now have slates with their very own Web sites. Regardless, it is unlikely that the timeless table tents will be forsaken.

But for what purpose? With all the time, money, and energy that candidates pour into their campaigns, we would only reasonably expect that the Student Union, and the individuals who fill it, have something substantive to offer the University. In my four years of experience taking in the t-shirts, table tents, and covered sidewalks, I can recall neither the name of one successful campaign slate nor one Student Union resolution that significantly impacted my experience here.

On Nov. 11 of last year, the student government of Suffolk University in Mass. became the tenth in the nation to pass a resolution against the PATRIOT ACT. In the past year, student governments as diverse as the University of Michigan, Macalaster College, Yale University, and the University of Texas passed resolutions against the invasion of Iraq. Here at Washington University, where current SU President Michelle Miller has stated that “the Student Union Constitution only allows the Senate to legislate on student welfare,” we are left deciding among executive candidates offering-above all, it seems-more accessible functioning of the SU Web site. Incidentally, as I write this column, is down. So perhaps this campaign proposal is more important than it may at first seem.

Every opportunity for students at a university should serve a greater purpose than a way to fill time outside of class and a way to fill vacancies on one’s first post-graduation resume. Rather, an experience such as serving on a student government should prepare a student for future representative leadership, whether it be in an employment setting or within the national government. Candidates seeking our votes today cite as some of their greatest accomplishments putting together forums on Direct Connect and the Alcohol Policy. Americans would not respond well to a candidate who suggests that his greatest achievement as a Senator was allowing his constituents to discuss an issue, but stopping well short of forcing the issue to come to a vote on the Senate floor that could actually change the course of the policy.

The time is past due for an individual running for the Student Union executive board to campaign on her record of rallying enough votes in the Senate to pressure the University to refuse to comply with RIAA requests for personal information, as Penn State University does. Or for a candidate for treasurer to suggest not the establishment of her own self-indulgent executive compensation, but the provision of full benefits for all campus workers. Only then-when their proposals and accomplishments would actually serve to impact our lives-should Student Union be allowed its infamous tagline: YOUR Student Government.