Ineffective SGA Polling
While we at the Echo support the Student Government Association’s (SGA) polling initiative, we believe that SGA Publicity Chair Justin Rouse’s recent presentation on behalf of the SGA Executive Board concerning the polling results from October demonstrate that SGA leaders are not listening to the student body as closely as they ought to be. Rather, they are presenting the poll questions in a biased way that does not allow for a comprehensive understanding of the school community’s feelings toward the complex issue of multiculturalism.
We would like to state very clearly that we believe the issue of diversity on campus is a pressing one. What we would like to argue is that SGA is failing its student body by not giving students a chance to offer their own views on the source of Colby’s diversity issues, but rather manipulating the student body into supporting its own agenda.
The first question of the survey asked, “Do you think that support for diversity issues and support for multicultural affairs are lacking at Colby?” 54 percent of students responded “No.” At the October 31 SGA meeting, Rouse commented that “half the campus is very aware of these things, and the people who are aware of them think they’re a problem,” and that otherwise, issues of multiculturalism are "either a problem [the remaining students are] not aware of or a problem they think doesn’t personally affect them."
This analysis suggests that the students who responded “no” are either ignorant of or are too selfish to care about what SGA sees as a clear problem. It presents a binary on a rather complex issue; maybe students answered “no” because they don’t believe that the issue with diversity is not necessarily a lack of support but could come from some other cause like a lack or communication or a lack of organization.
The second question asked, “If you believe [support for diversity and multicultural affairs] is a problem, which of the following is the biggest problem that SGA can address?” 57 percent of students answered “failure of Colby to have a senior-level Dean devoted to Multicultural Affairs.”
This question is an unfairly pointed one; the most popular answer for “what is the biggest problem” begins with the word “failure.” Maybe students truly do want a senior-level Dean of Multicultural Affairs, but SGA owes it to the student body to phrase the question more fairly and not use the words “failure” to lead students to that answer.
What we take from this poll is that SGA has already made up its own mind regarding how they think the issue of multiculturalism ought to be solved, and they are using this poorly worded, partial poll to justify their decisions. If we truly are going to solve this very real diversity problem, we need the SGA Executive Board to work hard to find out what the student body really wants.
- The staff of The Colby Echo