A lack of deliberation for significant action

SA Senate sacrifices thoughtfulness for speed with amendment vote

On February 27, 2014

Ignoring any notions of due diligence or reasonable debate, the Student Association Senate radically changed the way the organization is elected this week.

The group unanimously passed six amendments, including one that will eliminate the distinction between on- and off-campus representatives in the Senate - and all this in under an hour.

Eliminating the distinction between on- and off-campus senators means all senators could theoretically be on-campus students, removing any representation for off-campus students.

The situation isn't as unlikely as it may sound at first blush.

Ending the distinction means there is no longer a requirement for an equal number of on- and off-campus senators. Formerly, students could cast only six votes for senators and could only vote for on-campus senators if they lived on campus, and vice versa for off-campus students. The provision guaranteed equal representation for both student populations.

The new amendment eliminates this requirement and allows voters 12 votes on candidates not listed as either on- or off-campus.

On-campus students are already overrepresented on the SA e-board and - though they represent a minority of students overall - vote more than off-campus students. This amendment, then, could result in the skewing of representation toward on-campus students.

There are obvious issues with this amendment. But given that the amendment is already passed, public debate now will result in little substantive change. What should be interrogated now is the reprehensible manner in which the Senate conducts itself.

A student organization already infamously opaque is continuing its trend toward involving the student body in decisions as little as possible.

Without a requirement for public comments before rules are passed, as is legally required for legislative bodies across the country, students have no arena to voice concerns before a new amendment is passed. As things stand now, student concerns are left out of the deliberation process, which clearly lacks any rigor given the speed this body passes rules.

The speed with which the Senate passed the amendments doesn't mean the members were being efficient. Rapidity of action is affecting student representation - the Senate's actual job.

Passing six amendments in under an hour is evidence of an obvious absence of time for public input and a lack of thoughtful consideration on the part of the senators.

The student body deserves both an opportunity to comment on rules that will directly affect them, particularly their ability to vote, and a Senate that considers and discusses the votes they cast.

A fourth amendment that would dramatically increase the power SA has over clubs was tabled for another meeting and further discussion. The Senate must provide a time for public comment on so substantive a measure, lest the reckless behavior of the last meeting is repeated.

The Senate has demonstrated its penchant for ignoring student needs and concerns in favor of "efficiency" and self-preservation.

This student body needs and deserves a transparent and stable student government, one that takes time for debate from the public and amongst themselves.


email: editorial@ubsectrum.com

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