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Advisory council lacking in diverse representation

I’ve never been one to hesitate to be a representative of the student body. However, when debating accepting a position on the president’s advisory council, my decision to decline membership marks a frustrating trend on Augustana’s campus. While glancing at the list, I couldn’t help but be perturbed by the lack of diversity of thought.

The council’s representation doesn’t properly reflect the student body. A large majority of the council consists of Student Government Association and Office of Student Life and Leadership representatives. When it comes to student issues, these students aren’t always the best representations.

The  “sameness” between candidates was disturbing. There was a clear majority when it came to organizational involvement, major and geographic origin. Absolutely no international students were chosen for this council.

These students are very involved and capable, but there needs to be a more democratic system when it comes to student representation selection. The mission statement of the council stated that “students who are members of the Council do not represent particular organizations, but should represent the student body as a whole.” Unfortunately, a large chunk of the student body is missing.

The selection process, which included an application, seemed slightly biased. Many of the recommendations came from the president of SGA and other administrators. Is this really the way we should be represented?

Though the process would take more time and resources, a question remains: Should students elect their presidential advisory council representatives to the president, or should the president select his council?

As a leader, the amount of positions I’ve occupied in the past few years has been numerous. Yet something as important as the president’s advisory council should include students who represent the entire campus, rather than its small legion of predictable leaders.

I propose a system in which faculty recommend students who are active in their program and display active citizenry in less represented extracurriculars. This alleviates the problem of having the same homogenous group from being chosen. I also believe the student body should be notified of these representatives, if not asked to vote upon their approval.