Staff Editorial, Week 10: A.S. has priorities beyond school spirit

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There are a frightening number of challenges facing students today: a recession, dismal job market, budget cuts and impaction. The Associated Students (A.S.) is charged with acting as the conservators of our trust ‘- not to mention our money. There has been a lot of healthy debate between candidates over the past few weeks addressing the very issues students are concerned about. But there is also an inordinate level of discussions taking place on a topic that should be last on everyone’s list of priorities, school spirit.

Is school spirit important? Absolutely. We all want to have fond memories of our college days. It is unfortunate, however, that our resources are stretched so thin that we have to be especially careful about how they are channeled.

With that in mind, it is ludicrous to hear prospective (and, for that matter, current) senators discussing spending our money on something as frivolous as a Matador statue to raise school spirit. One would imagine these politicians-in-training would have learned a thing or two from the infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere.’

There is also a lot of rhetoric concerning CSUN’s uninspiring retention rates and how an increase in school spirit could remedy those numbers. While our candidates are ready to make this correlation, they do nothing to back it up. I would not be surprised to learn that our undesirable retention rates are due to lax admission standards rather than a lack of school spirit. Bad students are unlikely to be enthusiastic about any academic setting, even one in which the student body is active and exciting.

A.S., despite all the time wasted on the topic, cannot legislate an emotion. Throwing money at phantoms rather than concrete problems is only going to deepen our economic woes. And what A.S. seems to consistently fail to realize is that CSUN already has a lot to be proud of.

CSUN has the No. 1 men’s volleyball team in the nation. Our men’s basketball team made it to the NCAA and fought toe-to-toe with the third best team in the country. Our Model U.N. team traveled to China last semester and earned the Outstanding Delegations Award. Our women’s basketball team made it to the second round of the Big West Tournament, alumni Katharyn Ryan and Cristina Ramirez-Mares’s senior film project won third place at the Student Emmys last year and our journalism department won the Golden Mike Award for Best Hard News Series Reporting. These accomplishments were the result of our peers’ hard work and creativity.

CSUN is a relatively young university. Our history isn’t as long as UCLA’s or USC’s and, as a commuter school, our community might not be as tight-knit. School pride is something that must evolve over time. It is not something that can be voted into existence. A.S. can certainly nurture its progress by continuing to fund our outstanding students, programs and projects, but this is not an issue that can be tackled head-on by any means.

Frugal spending, however, is well within our control and should be our focus for some time to come. Graduating students are much more likely to be comforted by the fact that they received a quality education rather than a bronze bust of Matty the Matador’s disproportionately large head.