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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Steal This Column

There’s an old adage that claimssaying goodbye is never easy,and while this tried-and-true cliché probably helped some of you justify the overwhelming deluge of tears streaming down your face at your high school graduation, the fact of the matter is that good-byes are actually quite simple.

Last Thursday’s senate farewells, a series of passive addresses designed to appeal to the already established bases of the outgoing officials, couldn’t have illustrated this point more clearly.

Some of you may be thinking that these public farewells are an opportunity for outgoing officials to synthesize their term in office into one powerful statement, designed to pass on wisdom to a new generation of public servants. While this glorified image of ASUCD politics would almost certainly yield a more productive and knowledgeable governing body, it simply isn’t the reality. Or for that matter, even the intent.

Try to imagine that someone has gathered the closest friends and supporters of the six outgoing senators, seated them in large and specific groups in the audience, and forced them to give a standing ovation every time a money-word such associal justice,” “activismorconsensuswas mentioned by their favorite senator. Next, try to envision a series of uninterested facial expressions or snide comments whispered during the goodbye speeches of the opposition and you’ll begin to have some concept of ASUCD Senate farewells.

Seeing these groups of supporters rise and fall in blocks that are reminiscent of a game of human Tetris might lead some rookie observers to believe the contested opinion that the ASUCD senate is nothing more that a means of representation for various special interest groups on campus. However, on the sacred night of senate farewells it simply ensures that even the most passive-aggressive or irrelevant commentary will be met with a sudden outburst of applause.

Honestly, could delivering a farewell speech to a captive audience composed of some of your closest political supporters and allies really get any easier? Unfortunately, the answer is yes.

Despite the fact that ASUCD is currently surrounded by controversy, with its elections being contested and the dominant party having its name repeatedly dragged through the mud, it appeared as if the outgoing senators went to great lengths to avoid expressing any unpopular opinions in their final act as ASUCD officials. In fact, with the exception of a few jabs at the neutrality of The California Aggie, and the occasional reminder of the virtues embodied by the seemingly infallible L.E.A.D slate, observers of last week’s farewells would probably have a difficult time identifying any positions relevant to the current issues faced by the ASUCD senate.

I understand that some senators carry a deep emotional attachment to the tradition of farewell speeches, and that it truly is a time for them to speak their minds and say whatever they feel. However, I left last Thursday’s meeting feeling unfulfilled because, in my opinion, this quarter’s addresses were completely devoid of the powerful statements on which legacies are built.

The chance to convey the lessons that have been learned in the past, or possibly even salvage some scrap of ASUCD’s legitimacy in the eyes of the public, has passed for these six officials, and now the burden rest solely on their successors.

As the night’s speakers slowly made their way out the meeting the disagreements and squabbling typical of the senate table slowly found its way back in, and it appeared as if the outgoing officials were content with ending their terms not with a bang, but a whimper.

 

JAMES NOONAN promises that this year’s farewell column will leave his readers completely fulfilled and satisfied. Either that or irate and disturbed. Tell him which one you prefer at jjnoonan@ucdavis.edu.

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