Over the years, student government has been bogged down by student senators who are unable or unwilling to do the job they were elected for: represent students. Last week, five senators were dismissed for failing to attend meetings or being academically ineligible, and three other seats are vacant due to resignations. On Wednesday, the senate appointed two new senators, cutting the number of open seats to six.
Given that at least 13 senators must be present to conduct business, the senate has been able to function only three times since the first week of November.
Obviously a full complement of 23 active senators is needed to provide a wider representation of students. Senators bring different perspectives to the table when considering issues that affect students, and the fewer senators who are present, the fewer perspectives are offered.
All senators are expected to sit on all-university committees. Their absences hamper the operation of such committees as the Child Care Committee, the Scholastic Standards committee, University HIV committee, Traffic Appeals Board and others directly impacting the lives of students.
Of course, there is nothing in the ASPSU constitution outlining consequences for senators who do not fulfill this responsibility. But that’s another story.
Student senators represent students throughout the university, and are supposed to advocate for the best interests of students. However, if student senators are shirking their senatorial duties, they are probably shirking their responsibilities with all-university committees as well.
Senators are elected by students or appointed by the ASPSU administration. We find it appalling that students would volunteer for such responsibilities and then thumb their noses at the voters and government leadership. Student government has, in the past, expressed surprise at ‘voter apathy’ in campus elections, but it offers little reward for voter participation.
Although we are dismayed at the recent events, we acknowledge and commend Emily Garrick, senate president, and the Evaluation and Review Committee for dismissing the truant and ineligible senators. For the last two years, at least, student senate has consistently been unable to function because of absent senators. This year, however, something is being done about it.
We appreciate the senators who are active, involved and taking their responsibilities seriously.
Nevertheless, student government has a problem, and we urge the senate to choose replacements carefully and quickly.
All students deserve a functioning government that represents and protects their interests.