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Monday, June 17, 2024

Column: ASUCD, farewell

Sandbox Politico

We join student government to leave a legacy — whatever that means. To enact projects, bylaws, budgets and other machinations for the student body to enjoy and remember long after we’re gone.

You see these legacies all over campus — from a retired fire truck turned tube sock dispensary, to a coffee shop hippy hangout turned into one of the nation’s most successful university food services. These legacies rest in our state-of-the-art ARC, the bus system which wouldn’t exist without student money and our health center which we’re still finding out is a work in progress financially.

This is the kind of unprecedented, student-led magic student government can effect when run properly, and with the kind of fearless ambition so appropriate to the sandbox learning experience that is college. You build your castle, marvel at it for a time and then knock it down or build it bigger.

Are these pursuits always successful? Absolutely not. Just ask Darwin Moosavi, under whom Kid Cudi never came day or night but who also slapped a fee on plastic bags used on campus; actual policy even the state of California is too scared to implement.

It’s this kind of guess-and-check, try-and-die mentality that makes student government such a fitting analogy for the larger college experience. The willingness to try, and as my colleague Elli Pearson wrote on Monday, to make mistakes.

This column has been half advice to the senate, and half philosophical wax dripping off the candle that is my brain — trying to establish some emotional-philosophical connection between the student government and its student body.

But the one theme running consistently throughout was the need to care. All the way back to week one when I wrote on ASUCD’s paradoxes, the final line wasn’t grudging consent to systemic maladies, it was a cry for help — a call to arms.

Student government will only succeed when the most talented of us have a stake in its success — so bite off a slab (sorry for the metaphor vegetarian readers) (sorry for the pun everyone else).

And yet I don’t think I could give any better advice than that uttered at the most recent farewells by Vice President-Elect Bradley Bottoms: “Take your job seriously, not yourself,” a familiar mantra but one ASUCD so desperately needs.

Those great accomplishments I listed at the top — they were achieved when the actors took self, pride, ego and greed out of the equation. They put the pursuit above the person; that’s when the real work gets done.

That’s right, the personal does not have to be political, and we are all better off when the two don’t interact.

Because student government, like college, can be so easy when you let it. You have vast resources in front of you, augmented by years of historical fine-tuning, and readily enhanced by levers of power small enough to be easily reachable but big enough to shift the seismograph.

Current senators, that is the kind of power within your reach right now; don’t squander it.

Truth be told, I don’t have resolute faith in this current body. It’s a group of largely untested and untrained novices sitting at that table with the usual oversized platforms and good intentions.

Student government, prove me wrong. Please prove me wrong. No one is rooting for you to fail, least of all me. We attend university to have our ideologies tested and our ignorance quashed, here’s hoping you can teach me one last lesson before I don the cap and gown.

As for the rest of you, hold them accountable. As cynical as we’ve all become there’s still something magical about elections and the vote. Each of the 12 senators represents a kind of promise, a hope we imbued them with when we thousands of undergrads cast our ballots.

That promise is the notion that leaders and heroes do exist. Those who can elevate above the day-to-day malaise that too frequently plagues our sensibilities, and make things a little better for the rest of us.

Alright, enough said. When I exited senate a quarter ago I bid farewell to the crowded Mee Room and the senate table. This time The Aggie has given an impending graduate the ability to address the student body at large.

So ASUCD, and I mean all of you associated students, I bid farewell.

JUSTIN GOSS will actually be back with a bonus column on Monday but wanted to complete the ten-week arc he had intended. If you want to talk about obsessive adherence to continuity do so at jjgoss@ucdavis.edu.


  1. Thanks for the column Goss. Hopefully someone in the Aggie pays attention to the table beyond the vote count of bills and actually writes a regular critique of our microgovernment. Have fun across the pond.


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