Home Education Opinion: Bread and circuses

Opinion: Bread and circuses

6 min read

Those of you familiar with The Hunger Games may remember the phrase “panem et circenses;” “bread and circuses.” The phrase comes from the age of the Romans, when the Empire believed it could please its people and secure their favor simply by providing constant food and entertainment as opposed to genuine political change or reform.

In this year’s Student Senate election, the VOICE ticket appears almost actively uninterested in genuine change or reform. One gets the feeling that presidential candidate Nick Southall and vice presidential candidate Anna Morton would prefer to speak openly on any other subject than the rising cost of tuition and the burden of student debt. In the public square, Southall and Morton focus instead on subjects ranging from smoothie bars to programming to spring concerts.

VOICE’s active disinterest betrayed itself during the first Senate debate on April 1st. There, Southall first mentioned his smoothie bar project; apparently when asked what his year in office would be remembered for, that was one of the first things that came to mind. When asked about tangible results from Student Senate, Southall touted the spring concert and, once again, his dream of smoothie-satisfied Ping Center patrons. FUSS candidate Matt Farmer chose Gender Neutral Housing, which to be fair, is somewhat intangible.

On April 5, The Post published a letter written by Southall explaining his position on the guaranteed tuition model, which Farmer openly opposes and describes as a tuition hike. “Let me be clear; VOICE does not support the guaranteed tuition model, nor do we believe that narrow-minded opposition to any model…is productive or beneficial.” So we don’t have a yes on this thing, but we don’t have a no on any of the things. Couldn’t be clearer.

Yet, if anyone required further clarification, Monday’s debate must have disappointed. VOICE chose not to take the opportunity to choose a side, as it were, on guaranteed tuition. Instead, Anna Morton made it clear that her party’s priority is programming, not affordability. On VOICE’s online platform, the section labeled “Affordability” has only two vague points to it. Plans to renew the spring concert, bring franchise restaurants to campus, engage in more programming and of course construct the mythical smoothie bar receive much more attention and detail.

One reaches the conclusion that VOICE appears to be bribing OU students with these niceties with little regard for whether such things are in students’ best interests or even if they significantly matter to the student body at large. In all fairness, such is the path of least resistance. Rejecting the cynical idea that Senate preventing tuition hikes cannot be done, doing so successfully would certainly be hard. Concerts are easier to accomplish than successfully challenging the administration, but are we electing a government or a homecoming committee?

Surely someone on the VOICE ticket understands the severity of the financial situation that most students are facing and can explain that severity to Southall and Morton. Surely such a person can inform their executive leaders that if VOICE’s top priority is not affordability than VOICE’s priorities are not those of the students. Until affordability is seriously addressed by VOICE, talk of smoothie bars and programming is nothing more than bread and circuses.






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