The era of the Associated Students of Madison is over. ASM was a vain, bloated, corrupt and inefficient body that served no one but the resume-padding careerist hacks who profited from the corruption in which they wallowed.

ASM's bureaucracy was a corpulent mess of groups with no checks and balances in the system whatsoever. ASM holds all power — there is no appeal beyond it. The Student Judiciary can punish ASM members who break the rules, but consequences are minimal at best and can be overturned by ASM.

The elections committee, whose miserable failure in simply carrying out a free and fair election, was further proof. When asked who provided oversight for the committee, the reply was, "The committee oversees itself!"

The current student-fee system is also out of control. There is no mechanism to even allow ASM to reject or reduce any budget. Countless money is wasted on organizations that provide no service to students. ASM's twisted view of viewpoint-neutrality forced representatives into a position in which they could not say "no" to even the worst student organizations.

At the same time, ASM was forced to give out hundreds of thousands of dollars to undeserving groups; those groups who did deserve money were virtually prohibited from doing their own fundraising. These groups were completely dependent on the system.

Corruption ran rampant in ASM. While serving as a student representative on ASM, Cedric Lawson not only did not attend the university; he received money he shouldn't have. This possibility for corruption goes unchecked because of the general incompetence of the ASM representatives, who care more for petty bureaucratic fights than for truly serving students.

Candidates and groups have attempted reform for decades. Matt Modell fought vehemently for students' rights against ASM oppression. Numerous candidates were elected last year on a reformist platform. However, these leaders have been blocked in their efforts for reform by the careerist resume-padders.

This can no longer stand.

Over the coming weeks, the Student Government will be holding listening sessions for you — the students — to air your grievances against ASM. We also welcome ASM members — if you can prove there is something worth salvaging, we invite you to try. We will use your suggestions to craft a constitution that reflects a streamlined, efficient and clean vision of government.

We will be writing a constitution that represents you. We will institute a streamlined government that strips away bureaucracy and petty infighting. We will enact major student fee reform, ensuring transparency and integrity in funding. We will guarantee clean, honest government that is competent and honest. And, at all times, we will take your feedback, opinions and input.

We have only one request. In your deck of cards, there is a joker card. If you are fed up with ASM's garbage, if you don't care about what ASM does, if you want a fresh organization that will work for your interests — pin the joker on your bag or your clothes.

ASM has forfeited its right to be taken seriously. Atlas has shrugged — Student Government.

Together, we can create a good government. We look forward to serving you.

Steve Schwerbel ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in international studies, political science and history. He is chair of the Constitutional Committee of the Student Government.