Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Marquette Student Government: Claiming Undeserved Credit

Political Scientist David Mayhew is famous (at least among other political scientists) for explaining how members of Congress work to ingratiate themselves with their constituents.

One of the tactics he lists is “credit claiming” whereby members claim credit for good things that happen in their districts whether they had anything to do with the good news or not.

Thus it’s no surprise to find the politicians-in-training at Marquette University Student Government claiming credit for articulating the “student voice” during the week following the hapless Trustee decision to go with “Gold” as a sports nickname.

In reality, they were slow to get on the bandwagon, and did so only when it became unstoppable.

Naturally, this has been roundly resented by those students who were in the vanguard of the anti-Gold movement, especially Ryan Alexander at the 1832.COM blog, and the Republicans who run the GOP3.COM blog.

These students quickly and roundly denounced the Gold nickname on their blogs. They posted petitions on their blogs opposing the Gold nickname. They turned out to demonstrate against Gold as a nickname.

All the while MUSG was temporizing. Indeed, as the GOP3.COM blog reports:
Ryan [Alexander] also points out that only 3 senators signed the petition, which brings up the issue of student senator culpability. The MUSG resolution requesting that the nickname decision be re-examined passed 20-5-2. The large majority of students disagree with the 5 opposed senators and the 2 who abstained but, can we get the names of the senators who are so out of touch? No, they only do votes by a show of hands or secret ballot, they are all too scared to do a roll call vote, and that’s not just this bill but every bill. Practices like this only hurt the chances that MUSG will ever be more than a university mouthpiece with senators who are elected in popularity contests. How can you know that your senator represents you or does anything they promised when they will not even release their voting records?
Of course, the insurgent students are in training to be political office holders someday too.

But they have a history of making trouble for the Marquette Administration. The Republicans did so over the issue of whether they should be allowed to raise money to buy needed gear for American snipers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Alexander gave the Administration a tough time when he demanded (and got the support of the Republicans for) the firing of a Marquette Student Development bureaucrat.

Between those students working hand-in-glove with the Administration, and those willing to give the Administration trouble, we of course instinctively side with the latter. We already have too many politicians claiming credit for things they did nothing to bring about.

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