Maybe one of the more interesting experiences for me getting inside of the Graduate Student Association mechanisms is the fact that I have resigned myself to playing the system from the inside rather than changing it. I don’t think the system as it stands is exactly the most effective or most just way of taking care of business, but I have other fish to fry. Changing the culture of GSA to something more amenable to innovation is something I’m not interested in taking on at this point — as it stands I’ve been made to feel like a bit of an upstart anyway. I don’t mind that role, I just don’t want to go around bashing people’s heads because I’ve been assigned the role.

In any case, I’ve been thinking about the possible critique of the way we’re beginning to change our department GSA. We’ve begun steering people towards collaboration — or at least sharing — with GSA as a vehicle for projects, as opposed to having people propose things scattershot. It turns out that it’s easier to get funding for your projects if you’re willing to coordinate your efforts and avoid proposing a bunch of projects all at once — while all our projects are pretty cool and definitely deserving of funding, I think the broader GSA organization has reservations about allocating too much money to one department at a time.

Yet encouraging people to work with a self-imposed organizational structure seems a little contradictory to the idea that we want everyone to be doing as much stuff as often as possible as they can manage. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to add a little order to the chaos — at least this way we can keep track of each other, share information, support each others’ efforts, and at the very least bounce ideas around. I don’t like being in charge of bureaucracy, but it’s better than the alternative. (I don’t even know if the alternative would get us anywhere.)

If I come up with anything better, I’ll let you know: I abhor bureaucratic systems as much as anyone, for what it’s worth. I’m frustrated with being forced to play the system as opposed to change it, but I would rather work on my projects and support someone in changing it than I am in truly spearheading an effort for change. Lazy? Maybe. Self-centered? Definitely. But I’ve got bigger fish to fry.

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