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Bearkats are ready to serve

Guest Columnist

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 01:02

Kendall Scudder | The Houstonian

Kendall Scudder | The Houstonian

Sitting in the city council chambers on Tuesday was an experience I'll never forget. I sat and watched the Huntsville City Council vote on appointments to yet another city committee in which students will have no voice: the city's Charter Review Committee.

This shouldn't have surprised me. City boards and commissions rarely have any student input (which should explain why students are so unhappy with the state of our city). But when you take into consideration the magnitude of the committee that was being assembled, every Bearkat should cringe at the thought of being entirely excluded.

The Charter Review Committee may seem dull to some, but to those who understand that the City Charter is the document that defines the playing field for our entire local government, it's everything. This committee is what allows us to play ball or sit on the bench as the good ol' boys attempt to line their coffers with our generated tax revenue.

As each name was revealed, I sat and waited in the council chambers for someone, anyone, to stand up and fight for us, and it never happened--not even Councilwoman Tish Humphrey, the councilwoman elected to represent the predominantly student Ward 2.

Of the nearly 10,000 students that live in Huntsville, I suppose the mayor and council couldn't find a single one qualified to serve on this board. In the years that I have served the student body and fought for student rights here at SHSU, I can tell you that I've found more than just a few students that answer that call to serve every day.

I'm not angry I didn't get appointed, I'm angry that someone like Brandon Pete didn't get an opportunity to serve. He has served the student body for years in SGA, in Order of Omega Honor Society, as the Political Action Chair of the NAACP and a member of the Exceptional Men of the Talented Tenth Inc, but in the eyes of the City of Huntsville, he still isn't equipped to serve his community on the Charter Revision Committee because he's a student.

Or what about Ramiro Jaime, a 10 year resident of Huntsville and Master at Arms for the US Navy? He rarely misses a city council meeting. He is the president of the College Republicans and a VP of their national affiliate. Jaime is a member of Phi Delta Theta and rose in the ranks of IFC to become VP. Why does being a student disqualify him from the right to continue his service?

Or Nancy Severson-Olson, who's degree in psychology is allowing her to pursue her Masters in School Psychology. She simultaneously took full loads of classes, served as the VP of Psi Chi National Honor Society, and held down a campus job. Severson-Olson successfully juggled school, work, and service, but our city didn't think to ask someone like her to represent the 1000s of students in that same boat on a committee that drastically impacts the lives of her community?

I know for a fact that 2-time "Outstanding Campus Leader" nominee Kolby Flowers is ready to answer the call. He isn't just the Vice President of our student body, he's also a full-time employee of Apple Inc. where he manages the day-to-day operation of their stores. Even between his studies, his full-time job at Apple and his full-time job working for students, Flowers has been a member of the record breaking Bearkat All Paws In committee, twice. Don't tell me that he isn't qualified to serve.

I don't expect elected officials to know every person in their districts; that is an unfair expectation. What I do expect is for elected officials to at least know a handful of community leaders, especially the leaders within a demographic that makes up 1/3 of their constituency.

As elected officials, they represent all of the people in their district, not just the people with money, not just the people who vote. How did not one member of the student community come to mind when drafting these committee members? Why didn't council think YOU were worthy of serving your community?

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