When Greg Nance and the Next Generation (NextGen) slate took office last spring, they brought some promises with them. If all went according to plan, the slate said, they were going to buy three vans for use by student clubs, establish a website to broadcast campus events, open a clinic to provide students with free legal aid, expand restaurant discounts to downtown and Chinatown, bring back the UCPD’s bike registration program, make the Reg’s warning bells less obnoxious—and have all that done before autumn classes began.
So reality has once again failed to meet our lofty expectations. It turns out that imagining change is easy, but making it happen is hard and requires negotiating all manner of nitty-gritty details that can derail any idea, no matter how clever or well-intentioned. This isn’t an issue unique to NextGen; the guy throwing that big rally on the Midway tomorrow also knows a thing or two about the gap between expectation and reality.
There will certainly be some who see the list of things NextGen hasn’t done and judge each item as a mark against Student Government’s (SG) power and efficacy. And while it might not be entirely wrong to do that, it is, at the very least, too easy.
Proposing changes and trying them out is how things get done. There were complications to some of NextGen’s ideas—installing power outlets in Hutch was too expensive, putting an ATM in South Campus meant stationing a security guard there as well—which the slate couldn’t reasonably have expected. And now that they’ve done the initial footwork and found the drawbacks to those ideas, NextGen and their successors will know the constraints they face when they undertake similar plans.
And NextGen’s successes also provide guidance as they go forward. Securing a permanent late-night dining program in Hutch—in spite of a trial run in the spring that wasn’t quite profitable—is evidence that by pairing students’ demands and SG’s access, SG can bring about major changes.
On the other hand, the popularity of the Collegiate Readership Program, which distributes free copies of major newspapers around campus, shows that oftentimes relatively small changes are the ones we most appreciate. This lesson in particular is one that NextGen should bear in mind as the year wears on.
As for the rest of us outside SG, we should continue to take an interest in NextGen’s work and remember that their goal is to bring about incremental change that, cumulatively, makes the campus a better place. If we can muster the patience and forbearance to cheer on Obama tomorrow despite his struggles, surely we can extend the same consideration to NextGen and support their efforts to turn their own rhetoric into results.
The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and an Editorial Board member.