Home Education Opinion: Southall is gone, but did he even show up?

Opinion: Southall is gone, but did he even show up?

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On April 19 of last year, I watched as four Ohio University students were arrested for protesting tuition hikes at a Board of Trustees meeting. Former Student Senate President Nick Southall was there too, presumably thinking about how he would never be arrested over some silly thing like student debt. But whatever he was thinking about, he was silent. It was almost like he wasn’t even there.

This week, we learned there won’t be a spring concert in the Convocation Center this year. After three years in a row with such events, seniors like me will have to survive our last semester at OU without a big-name artist or comedian stopping for a visit in Athens. But not only does this week mark the death of the spring concert — it also marks the death of the 2013 VOICE campaign.

You may remember VOICE as one of the two parties that ran in last year’s Student Senate elections. Of course these days, they’re no longer known as VOICE; rather, they’re known as the Ohio University Student Senate.

Since being elected, VOICE has suffered one setback after another. The most explosive involved Southall, who capped off a semester of controversy with a stay in the Pinellas County Jail after becoming so intoxicated in a St. Petersburg, Fla., hotel, that he was tased by police officers.

According to Anna Morton, the new Student Senate president, former vice president and former VOICE candidate, the spring concert was in jeopardy even before Southall’s arrest.

“Prior to Nick’s resignation the planning and finding funds for the concert was a struggle,” Morton said. “The best decision was to hold off this year and hopefully start to plan more efficiently for next year.”

The inability to efficiently plan a spring concert must come as a disappointment to Morton and the rest of the former VOICE party, given that programming efforts like the concert were the ticket’s top priority — rather than issues like tuition increases.

Another top priority was the legendary Ping Smoothie Bar, a campaign promise that was apparently so vital to the VOICE platform, Southall mentioned it twice in his first debate on April 1. Nine months later, Ping Center remains BYOS.

Also in the April 1 debate, Southall spoke of a “task force” with 40 to 50 people communicating with students and student organizations and reporting back to Senate. It would be hard not to have heard of this 50-person Senate task force if it existed, so I feel comfortable assuming it does not.

It’s tough to come up with even one item from the VOICE platform that has come to fruition. Certainly Southall’s prediction that his year as president “will be remembered as the year all students were brought to the table” did not come true; rather, his year will be remembered for other things. But with no action taken to curb tuition hikes or book spring concerts, no voting rights for student trustees and no smoothie bar for Ping Center, we can’t be too hard on Southall’s legacy.

If you think about it, it’s almost like he wasn’t even here.

 

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