GAs, or General Assemblies, are an opportunity for a group to educate campus about a certain topic they feel is important to their organization, as well as giving campus the chance to engage in a constructive discussion to further learn from each other.
Last week, BELLAs (Beautiful Empowering Ladies Leading All) held a “What is Feminism?” GA, SEED (Socioeconomic Education and Diversity) held one about Illinois Public School funding, and BSU (Black Student Union) held one about Reverse Racism. Each of these clubs have a quota from PME (Peer Multicultural Educators) which outlines their requirements for the year, in order for them to remain chartered. One of the largest things that PME requires for each of its clubs is that the club holds at least 1 GA per semester.
However, at the recent BELLAs GA, one member of the discussion pointed out that those who need to be at GAs never come. The real question lies in who actually needs to go to GAs.
If the point of a GA is to educate people, then logically, those who are ignorant on a given topic should go. However, more often than not, the people who go to select GAs are those who already know a decent amount about the given topic. The major exception to this theory comes when a club holds a particularly controversial GA, such as the Reverse Racism GA last week.
On the other hand, if the purpose of GAs is to have fruitful discussion, then the desired turnout would vary. GAs on topics which don’t blatantly pose controversy don’t typically attract a crowd of diverse opinions. Although these GAs still bring people in, the lack of opposing viewpoints doesn’t offer the same level of discussion that the presence of several viewpoints would. When a GA has an intriguing name tacked onto it, people come to listen to the discussion, to begin discourse with their fellow students, and to see where they stand on the spectrum.
Whichever purpose you choose to assign to GAs, they have one. Although attendance seems decent at most GAs, our standards are set low. If over 20 people gather in the TV pit, we consider it a success. GAs with over 40 people are rare. With a campus of over 600 students, our turn out rates are extremely disappointing. Homework and meetings are understandable commitments to deter you from attending these discussions, but if you haven’t tried to go when you’re free, you’re part of the problem. Our job as a campus is to help fulfill the purposes of GAs to the best of our abilities.
Take advantage of every opportunity offered to you. Keep educating yourself.