The Arizona Desert Lamp

ASA’s “Truth in T-Shirts” Campaign

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 19 October 2009

Ever wonder exactly what you’re getting for your $2, semi-voluntary donation to the Arizona Students Association? Thanks to the power of the internets, now you can see your lobbyists at work – making topical fan videos based on Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”!

Yes, the chorus is, “SAFRA is a bill for education.” Everyone gets a good laugh out of the hopelessly out-of-touch efforts by adults to “get hip with the kids,” but forgotten is how student leaders do exactly the same thing. (Good voices, though.)

The video does serve a useful purpose, though, in unintentionally highlighting a few, forgotten truths about the organization.

David Martinez, wearing an ASUA shirt

1. ASA is not independent of ASUA. This myth got its greatest airing during the uproar at the concert loss, when some students advocated a widescale refund of the ASA fee. Some commenters pushed back, arguing that the organization was independent and shouldn’t been penalized for Bruce’s indiscretions. Yet according to the ASA bylaws,

ASA UA shall consist of  six (6) Directors, (1) Director shall be the Graduate and or the Student Council President. The ASUA President shall appoint four directors, one of whish [sic] shall be a graduate or professional student. The graduate student or professional student must be confirmed by the GPSC in addition to the ASUA Senate before taking office.

Similar provisions of appointment exist at ASU and NAU, where ASA directors are part of the executive cabinet and serve at the pleasure of their respective student body presidents. ASA is more financially independent than other offices, thanks to the fee, but in addition to its fee money the group also receives $11,120 directly from ASUA, in the form of stipends and a general budget (like those alloted to other divisions of the president’s cabinet).

Obama Shirt at ASA Meeting

2. ASA is not “non-partisan.” It might be a rule of thumb by now that any self-proclaimed “non-partisan” organization is in fact hellbent on very partisan goals (see: PIRG, the Nonpartisan League, ACORN, etc.). So it should come as no shock that an official video of the “nonpartisan” ASA features a cameo of the Shepard Fairley “HOPE” shirt, highlighted even further by the fact that everyone else in the shot is wearing business casual (“Dress Code: business casual and/or Obamaphenalia.”)

I suspect that ASA would be shocked to learn that some people might take offense to this, that this is actually not OK. Such is the banality of HOPE. After a flowering of structural reforms at the beginning of its existence, the organization now exists solely as one of many lobbying groups interested in more money. These policy goals have been grudgingly tolerated by those that oppose them, due in part to the fact that ASA has cast their goals in an entirely apolitical light – “save the students” and whatnot. Seeing how the organization has been sharpened under the influence of Hilary Clinton delegate David Martinez III, though, a couple of questions emerge:

1) If ASA’s entire ethos involves increasing government spending on higher education (specifically, research-1 universities – community colleges are left by the wayside), can it ever in fact be a “nonpartisan” organization?

2) Even more broadly, for those who view the political process and lobbying with disdain: is the hatred with lobby-fueled government the principle of the matter, or is it simply disappointment that one’s own special interest isn’t getting what s/he thinks it is owed?

Less importantly,

3) What exactly does it mean that the lone comment on the video comes from this guy?

Stalin1938 Comment

Uh, thanks?

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8 Responses

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  1. Laura Donovan said, on 19 October 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I’m dumber having watched that video. But hey, that blond girl can dance. You can’t fault their dancing skills.

  2. Shain Bergan said, on 19 October 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Correction Laura—yes I can.

  3. Jimi Alexander said, on 19 October 2009 at 10:43 pm

    WTF is creepy papier-mache McCain face doing in that video?

  4. Shain Bergan said, on 20 October 2009 at 6:03 pm

    What’s David Martinez’s job now that he’s not a student regent anymore? He’s picking up stuff with ASUA?

    • Amanda said, on 22 October 2009 at 12:00 am

      David Martinez is now the ASA UA Campus Organizer

  5. Jon said, on 22 October 2009 at 12:01 pm

    I just quickly wanted to point out that the video clip where they show the Obama shirt was not ASA but an ASUA event (President’s cabinet meeting)

    • Evan Lisull said, on 22 October 2009 at 3:48 pm

      Interesting, although the fact that this was included in an ASA video further indicates how closely connected the two bodies are. Thanks for the tip.


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