Too often the ASM agenda calls for debate on worthless political resolutions that serve no purpose other than dividing the student body and showing the bad side of student government.
That is why we are so pleased ASM recently proved the worth of student government by focusing on a concrete problem that could only be dealt with by students working together towards an attainable goal.
Last Thursday ASM nominated three students to join Campus Relations Chair Philip Ejercito on a campaign focused on empowering student tenants. The campaign will educate students on their rights and develop tools to identify awful apartments and their accompanying slumlords. Its goals include the creation of a comprehensive renter’s guide, a centralized database with information about landlords and housing units, an education program for students in residence halls and a stronger relationship with the city.
These are worthwhile and attainable goals. We applaud ASM for focusing its attention on them.
The renter’s guide is a particular feasible objective and will focus students’ attention on laws already in place. We hope it receives a higher priority than the passing of more laws.
Similarly, a centralized database of landlords, accompanied by advertising in residence halls, will help students avoid the shabbiest of houses, while not-so-subtly encouraging landlords to improve their properties.
The Tenant Resource Center ostensibly already deals with these issues, but their responsibilities include the entire city of Madison and its offices are located far from campus. And for the student willing to make the trek, the center offers little more than pamphlets.
That is why we are disappointed the TRC receives $60,680 of our student fee money. The terrible housing situation is well documented, and TRC has not improved it. We are glad that by making tenant rights and resources a priority, ASM is admitting that throwing money at the problem via the TRC will not help. We hope that the next time TRC is allocated funds, both their failures and the potential success of this campaign will be reflected in the distribution of money.
Legitimate student government can make a difference, and the Tenant Rights campaign is a good first step in proving ASM to be that government. We hope this is the beginning of a new focus on students instead of politics.