NPS: Not Quite Right on this One

North Park Street, normally on top of its game, seems a little misguided on this one.  Kurt has published two what he would consider “WTFs” on the new ASM Government Relations Advisor.  The first is merely a questioning of something we questioned very heavily ourselves: should we prefer to hire someone who has experience with higher ed from a student perspective?  We ultimately decided that, yes, it should give the edge to someone who has experience from that perspective, but the position wouldn’t necessitate that.
The second:
WTF #2: However, this position will not directly voice the student opinion or assume the opinion of ASM, his/her responsibility is only to open the door and make it easier for students to do make their voices heard.
– So, this is a doorman position?  Why not call it a frickin’ butler and pay minimum wage?
– Do we really believe that a position designed to interact with legislators can be effective if it cannot “voice the student opinion?!”
– This is a really, really, really dumb line.  I mean, not quite as dumb as sticking a metal fork into an electric socket, but it’s pretty close.
– The fix is quite simple: Take out this line!
Okay, I get it.  You don’t like the open the door line.  But in truth, we can’t pay someone on the staff to lobby with the assumption that they represent students.  Unlike United Council, staff don’t run ASM (there, I said it), and we always need to be careful about what authority and assumptions we grant to staff.  I wouldn’t want our admin staff going to UW administrators and saying that “students think this” or “students think that” without explicit instruction to do so.  The same logic holds here; the lobbyist advocate advisor is not to assume or even represent the student opinion on an issue without specific consent from ASM leadership and the Legislative Affairs committee.  In an ideal world, a student would accompany this position on every trip to the capital, but in the event that doesn’t happen, we at least can be assured that they aren’t mucking up the opinions of ASM and are more concentrated on building the repertoire necessary to effectively lobby the state.
[Edited: on January 27th, 10:30 am for grammatical mistakes.]

3 Comments on “NPS: Not Quite Right on this One”

  1. Adam J says:

    “The same logic holds here; the lobbyist advocate advisor is not to assume or even represent the student opinion on an issue with specific consent from ASM leadership and the Legislative Affairs committee”

    I think you meant WITHOUT.

    The idea is that, the position could ONLY take these positions with officials if ASM has directly told the advisor to do so. Anything less leaves too much discretion.

  2. Kurt G says:

    As anyone familiar with recent ASM history knows, I am firmly on the side of limited staff authority in ASM. That being said, the GRA is expected to be a communicator & policy agenda pusher. If they can’t push policy, why pay $80k for it?

    What I don’t understand is the expectation of “mucking up” student opinion. Student opinion would be decided by one of the deciding entities of ASM (Chair/Vice-Chair, CoCo or Council).

    This line prohibits the GRA from actually conveying student opinion without a student being present, reducing effectiveness.

    If the purpose of this is to express only approved opinions, then use language that reflects this such as “the GRA does not make policy decisions for ASM; rather, the GRA facilitates the communication of ASM’s official positions.

    Also, I ask how do you determine “experience from a perspective.” It reads like identity politics bs that has no place in a PD.

    Experience with student/higher-ed related issues is actually what you are looking for isn’t it?

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