Satirical legislation has no place in Student Government

0219_AlbertLee

Albert Lee

Illustration by Albert Lee.

James Treuthardt

Last week Student Government canned a piece of legislation to rename the College of Liberal Arts, COLA, to the College of Conservative Arts and the College of Liberal Arts, or COCACOLA. Despite making it to the floor, this satirical legislation failed to pop and was ultimately turned down in a 14-11 vote.

Assembly Resolution 26 aimed to advocate for political inclusivity and understanding of all political viewpoints at UT by making an absurd statement about campus culture. The measure initially passed but failed after two SG representatives were allowed to change their votes. 

While funny, the legislation muddles its point by focusing more on the joke, the “meme”” quality if you will, rather than actual change. Legislation like COCACOLA hurts Student Government’s credibility because it fails to solve problems affecting students.

Instead, it was the conversation (and memes) surrounding the decision that resonated more strongly than the legislation itself.

Students could not help themselves from making jokes after the legislation failed. Students on social media have rightly questioned whether you can be a Pepsi fan and get a COCACOLA degree. They have proposed adding a Dark Arts program and becoming CODACOLA. Some are just glad they have found a movement that’s worth giving your life to.

According to Jordan Cope, liberal arts representative and author of the bill, the end goal was not to actually pass AR 26, but simply spread its message. Cope designed AR 26 to address poor political discourse on campus — not actually rename the College of Liberal Arts. Instead of focusing on creating something that had an actual institutional effect on students, the bill simply made a joke. The problem is — it did not make any change.

SG is often criticized as not doing anything that actively benefits the student body. Especially in light of the recent SG election, many students see the institution as a legislative body that has no real impact on students.

However, that’s not true. From advocating for mental health services on campus to maintaining the SureWalk program that helps students get home safely at night, SG has enacted many real initiatives that benefit students, but COCACOLA only serves to undermine them.

While not many students would disagree that all viewpoints should be recognized and respected on campus, COCACOLA has no tangible benefit to students. In the debate over AR 26, Jordee Rodriguez, Liberal Arts Council president, noted that COLA administrators had no intent to rename the school, and it might soon be named after a donor. One proponent of the bill went as far as to state that they knew no change would happen, so there’s no harm in passing it.

Student responses have been jokes about the name, not genuine reflection on political tolerance. When the satire overwhelms the purpose of the legislation, SG is not doing its job. It looks like a joke. 

Treuthardt is a Journalism and Marketing sophomore. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesTreuthardt