Tl;dr, check out the picture linked in this post! Heart in the machine is A.S. office holders.
In response to Bo Diego’s earlier post about corruption in CSU Student Government, and Gary Daniels comment about wannabe politicians in the CSU Student Gov. Facebook wont let me post this comment there because I think it is too long, and so I figure hell lets give it its own post!
The tactics I have seen administrations use perhaps can explain why there are so many wannabe politicians in CSU student gov. —
Administrators create and select preferential student organizations that cultivate advantageous social circles, rhetorical narratives, and then through collaborations with or by running these organizations, the administrators use them to scope out students, set narratives, and engineer social circles. The administrators use their resources, policy, and pull from personal relationships within these organizations to do so, setting narratives that suggests the org.s memberships should run for or not run for Associated Students (student government/A.S.) office, and likewise selectively lets the students know that running for A.S. office can result in resume building and letter of recommendations and similar prestige that will help them with their political careers.
The administrators then use A.S. to further scope out students, introduce more narratives and rhetoric to them, and even suggest to favorable students to run for higher offices within the A.S., including key tips on how to win, and use these students to perpetuate their privatization agendas. Students seem to wander into student government for a variety of reasons, from good intentions and notions of community involvement, to the feeder programs and methodologies utilized by the administration, but then the administration actively disenfranchises potentially radical students, empowers conservative ones, and spreads and enforces the narratives of American civil religion, representative servitude, professional showmanship, and indulgence in volunteerism and partying. This allows the administration to even use the radical leaning students for reformist measures that strengthen a system custom designed for working against the interests of those radical students.
During my time as A.S. president, I was one of if not the only A.S. presidents that did not belong to a fraternity or sorority, but I did get involved in A.S. through student clubs and a student organization that was ran and funded by our A.S., and managed by our administration, particularly the A.S. executive director who is employed through and answers to the student affairs vice president. I incidentally absorbed the narratives put forth by our administration into my organizationally dependent social circle, and felt entitled to run for student gov., which was a natural fit given my training in public relations, policy, and organizational psychology, along with popularity and skills I accrued from work in the A.S. ran organization, and with the Green Party and hosting a tour and opening for a speech by their presidential candidate Jill Stein.
The A.S. members get spoiled with perks (pending on their rank in the hierarchy and favoritism by the administration), like nice hotels, flights and fancy rental cars, company credit cards, titles like president and C.E.O., hefty pay checks, even free tuition, token press interviews over irrelevant subjects, empowering tips and tricks (from scholarships to apply for, to what I term “red tape machetes,” i.e. the ability to get things done with professional help and without resistance,) and token visits and arrangements with powerful people who the students look up to and wish to network with for professional reasons. This allows the targets of the administration to really pretend to “be somebody,” while the more radical individuals get villainized, undermined, and otherwise disenfranchised.
When I won A.S. pres. office, I immediately got invited to the University Presidents office, met most of the top level administrators on our campus, the Presidents secretary told me how great being president would look on my resume, and the U. President asked me what my goals were with A.S. for the year, and told me that many A.S. presidents go on to lead very successful careers and he would do anything he could to secure my professional success. This was particularly fishy given that I watched the University President proclaim at an A.S. meeting that him and our previous A.S. president would be life-long friends, but I also watched that A.S. president co-opt several student movements, assist in selling our student owned bookstore to Follet and use the money to build a Recreation and Wellness center, and then get a nice cozy job with our student affairs administration along with their A.S. vice president. In my meeting at the University Presidents office, the president attempted to coach me on how to handle my time at the Panetta Institute, which he was paying for to send me, and then his secretary secured the details for me seeing if I would like to fly and have a rental car, along with impressive reimbursements if I drove my own car, and dates for my stay in hotels. This was the first time I felt like I was being fast tracked to the inner party.
The Panetta Institute itself is hugely problematic; it teaches its attendees to maintain their positions at the top of hierarchy, supplies oppressive, capitalist, war monger, and high priests of American civil religion as models to look up to, engineer’s social circles even tighter between its attendees, and locks into place a rhetorical narrative.
Again, each situation calls for a custom fit of the tools administrators have to get their agendas passed, but the administrations (across all three systems, and the whole profession of higher education administrations even) only have so many tools and there are patterns in their methodologies. The way administrations work with CSU A.S. is a great example for their tactics they use elsewhere. They use their pulls from within A.S., such as codified advisory positions on all the boards of directors, and executive directors (E.D.) who ultimately are employed by the student affairs administration (or in the case of CSSA, the chancellor’s office) or likewise have very close relationships with the admin. These E.D.’s are abducted through a variety of methods, most suspect of all being a process of supplying pensions for the positions, which results in the E.D. being employed by the administration, and not the A.S., known as going stateside. Other methods include: policies which the A.S. members are tricked into adhering even when they are not sound or authoritative via education code, taking up all of the A.S. members time with a variety of shared governance committee work and closed door presidential advisory committees where the administration are able to become the social circle of the A.S. members through sheer time spent together and shared experience, and by virtually bribing A.S. members with letters of recommendation and other hierarchy oriented indulgences.
The problems with CSU student governments (A.S.) seem to directly mirror the problems with university administrations, along with state and federal government, which the student governments are set up to emulate. A.S.’s are not much more than public relations entities. Administrator’s direct authentically angry students—who are attempting to confront the problems perpetuated by the administrations and privateers—to the A.S.’s, moving the anger away from confronting the problem, where the A.S.’s then butcher and co-opt the energy, by misdirecting it and stealing the credit from the grass roots work.
The reality is that A.S.’s and it’s memberships were put in place to co-opt, puppet, divert, and disenfranchise their constituents, so that neo-colonial agendas can move forward, even though they are supposed to be empowering their constituents and working for their better interests. The Associated Students organizations, much like universities administrations, are set up to: breed complacency, haphazardly perform administrative functions, fail at addressing genuine issues, save face, build resumes, and then party and/or mindlessly volunteer away the woes that occur from selling your soul.
So in conclusion, wannabe politicians, along with a couple other types of tools, are the perfect fit for the agendas of privatization bent administrations. CSU Administrations cultivate the proper organizational cultures to attract the wannabe politicians, setting up recruiting mechanisms and using a variety of methodologies as listed above, along with a couple others that I missed, to make sure there are plenty of corrupted tools in CSU Student Government. CSU A.S. members are the hearts of freedom fueling the machine in my drawing that I issued when I resigned from my term as A.S. president. The power of this corruption is not to be underestimated, if you join A.S. without the proper grassroots support structure, and even with it, you likely will become the heart fueling the machine too.