The Abilene City Council discussed and eventually voted against raising the limit of non-related people living in one house from three to four-a decision that affects the roughly 1,200 students not living in university-owned housing. Students should have lined up at the Oct. 23 meeting to voice their opinion in favor of changing a law that many disregard and violate on a daily basis.
One student attended-an Optimist reporter there to cover the meeting.
Not one of the nearly two dozen citizens in attendance supported the increase. The students’ voice was not heard, and the Council unanimously rejected the proposal.
Student apathy for national, state and local governmental proceedings is well documented. But this wasn’t simply a debate over a new water treatment plant for the county, and it was not an election for a position that few students care about. This proposal hit closer than just students’ backyards; it hit their very living rooms and bedrooms.
Now, students must be ready to reap the consequences of their apathy. Although the zoning law appeared to remain unchanged through the Council’s rejection, reality is that it has changed completely.
Citizens have complained that the zoning law was rarely enforced. With all the scrutiny this law has taken over the past weeks, the city is watching more closely than ever for violators, as at least one group of students renting a house has already discovered.
More houses will continue to be targeted by the city in violation of the law. Fines will be assessed, and students will be forced out of their homes. The same students who couldn’t muster enough reasons to voice their opinion will be forced to comply.
And where were those the students elect to represent them?
The Students’ Association did nothing to further the students’ cause. Research could have been gathered on student opinion. Petitions could have been circulated. Representatives could have been sent to the City Council. Much could have been done. Nothing was.
SA, which in the past year wanted to focus solely on advocacy, should have found a way to advocate the students’ case on an issue that affects 30 percent of undergraduates.
Failure to do so was a failure to fulfill the very purpose SA wants to stand for.
SA failed the students, and the students failed themselves. Now, everyone will pay the price.