In Our Opinion: BYUSA has lost ability to inspire change

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    Almost everyone at BYU has heard of BYUSA, but does anyone know what it does?

    BYUSA has a president and a vice president that only a small percentage of the student body votes for every Winter Semester. The BYUSA offices are on the third floor of the Wilkinson Student Center.

    BYUSA sponsors dances in the ballroom that cost $4 without a student ID and $3 with. It also sponsors the Fall Fling and Spring Fling.

    But does BYUSA really do anything?

    “If this student body could be influenced to care about BYUSA, elections may actually give students a say in university policy.

    It would give the BYU student body something to care about other than themselves and the microbiology or mythology midterm coming up.”

    At the beginning of Fall Semester 1995, the BYUSA president, whose name has since vanished into oblivion, dedicated his administration to a crusade to save the beauty of campus. He named his campaign “Cougars Don’t Cut Corners.”

    He had all of the freshmen come and visit the BYUSA offices on the fourth floor, where the offices used to be before construction began, and sign their names in a book.

    These signatures were the promise of freshmen to never cut corners again for as long as they lived, especially for the years they would spend at BYU.

    He compared this “no cutting corners” attitude to life. If one doesn’t cut corners on a university’s lawn, one won’t cut corners in life. He even gave a whole Devotional speech on this subject. Now, three years later, the book and signatures forgotten, the actual power of BYUSA is blazingly apparent.

    Almost every corner on campus has a nice, straight line of mud with green grass paralleling it. No one remembers the book or those signatures.

    BYUSA has almost no power to move people to think or act differently.

    Thirty years ago, students got involved with BYUSA even if they weren’t members. Everyone knew what it was and what it did. Students wanted to be involved. People attended the BYUSA dances that cost only 50 cents. The president actually had power to change things. He had the support of the student body.

    Everyone knew the president’s name.

    Today, how many people know the name of the BYUSA president?

    It’s Brian Bowers.

    But does he do anything?

    He may, but no one hears about it. His power has been depleted by years of student apathy and lack of publicity.

    Plus, the only people who run for BYUSA president have been involved with BYUSA previously. They know how the system works. It would be quite a challenge for a regular student to run and win the elections.

    This contributes to the continuing lack of “regular” student involvement in BYUSA. Thus, “regular” student apathy ensues, while old BYUSA members take over the president’s office and continue to fade into the background.

    The cure for this problem is difficult to implement. It involves persuading the entire student body to care about BYUSA. This is a momentous task for a president who is only in office for 10 months and is working toward graduation, just like the rest of the students.

    If this student body could be influenced to care about BYUSA, elections may actually give students a say in university policy.

    It would give the BYU student body something to care about other than themselves and the microbiology or mythology midterm coming up.

    Can this happen?

    Not if BYUSA stays the way it is and exercises no power over the students or the university.

    And the president’s name will continue to vanish into oblivion, just like his crusades and books full of meaningless signatures.

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