Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blogger Keeping Tabs on Student Government

Blogger Joseph Schuster has taken on the role of being a thorn in the side of Marquette University Student Government.

We can hardly think of a better target.

Actually, the Office of Student Development and the University Ministry might be better targets, but they aren’t really different targets, since MUSG is pretty much in the pocket of those University bureaucrats.

Schuster’s most recent post concerns an MUSG “concert” that turned into a real flop.
When I have discussions with people about the necessity of MUSG, the one point that always comes up about what MUSG does that is great for the student body is that it puts on events. That would mean the only worthwhile MUSG department is the Program Board, headed by Program Vice President Matt Robinson.

I was wrong again. This past weekend, I attended the Reel Big Fish concert, expecting the Varsity Theatre to be full. After all, Reel Big Fish is an enjoyable band and MUSG was basically giving away tickets at $15. I couldn’t believe it though; when I walked in about 20 minutes before the show began, the Varsity Theatre was probably only one-eighth full. I would say though, that in the last 20 minutes it filled, to (at best) one-third capacity.
So why does MUSG sponsor concerts? It’s not like Milwaukee hurts for performance venues.

The reason, quite simply, is that “student government” is in fact a government, able to tax students (it’s called “activity fees”) and stage events with no market test.

A private promoter who mounts too many money-losing concerts will go out of business. But MUSG can just continue to rake in tax money from students.

All in the service of building little bureaucratic empires in Alumni Memorial Union.

Administration Intimidation

Schuster, by the way, had to face what looks very much like an attempt at intimidation as he was starting his blog.

Duane Bruce, Assistant Dean for New Student Programs, approached Schuster and asked him “what’s your goal?” in starting the blog. He then warned Schuster to “be careful” with his blogging, and added that he preferred that people would be “doing something” rather than “talking about” things.

Which, of course, denigrates the entire journalistic profession!

Schuster has been stonewalled by MUSG officials, who refuse to talk to him on the grounds that he is a blogger. We asked Brock Banks, MUSG President, about this policy, and he refused to respond to us too!

Since he is a former student of ours, we were prepared to view him favorably, but he threw that away.

Apparently, MUSG will only talk to the Tribune and The Warrior. Both publications should be deeply offended at that, since it implies they are “in the tank” for MUSG, and either unwilling or unable to provide critical coverage.

MUSG appears to be afflicted by the arrogance typical of all the bureaucrats that infest Alumni Memorial Union.

Deep down, they must sense that real transparency would be a threat to them.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Schuster blogs for the Tribune now, it'd be natural to assume that MUSG has to talk to him now... but I guess not.

10:24 PM  
Blogger David Casper said...

When I was a Freshman at MU, MUSG put on a free concert in the Union featuring Matthew Sweet and Dread Zeppelin. The lines to get in stretched out of the union and onto Wisconsin Avenue. Why? Well, if you attended that show, you got free tickets to a little-known band (at the time) called Pearl Jam that was performing at the Varsity the following weekend.

The problem was that the free tickets were for anyone who showed up, not just Marquette students. If I recall correctly, this led to a lot of controversy, since it was student fees paying for Pearl Jam to play there in the first place.

Looks like things haven't changed much.

11:24 AM  

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