The issue of representation for transfer students was debated at the Student Assembly (S.A.) meeting yesterday.
A resolution to amend the S.A. charter, allowing for one seat to be specifically for transfer students, failed by a vote of 12-7. Over the past year, the Assembly had voted to eliminate the transfer seat, and yesterday’s resolution was introduced in part to reverse that decision.
Under the guidelines upheld by the S.A., new students, including both freshman and transfer students, elect four representatives to the S.A. every fall. In previous years, all first year students elected four new student representatives, one of which was a transfer student.
The resolution introduced was to reinstate the seat, and to have that representative to be elected by only transfer students.
“Under this new plan, [the transfer representative] would be elected by a general population of transfer students,” said Ari Epstein ’04, agriculture and life sciences representative, who introduced the resolution.
In a letter to members of the Assembly in November, President Hunter R. Rawlings III endorsed a permanent transfer seat.
“Transfer students, whose numbers are similar to those of other constituent groups, have different needs from freshman, and I think this seat is an important one to maintain.”
Several S.A. members disagreed.
“If you look around the Assembly, there is no shortage of transfer representation,” said Scott Toussaint ’05, new student representative.
“Just because there is a large number of transfer students represented on the Assembly now, that does not mean that it will always be like that,” answered Adam Fox ’04, agriculture and life sciences representative.
Many members argued that the reason certain seats, like minority liaison, are necessary is because those groups have traditionally been underrepresented.
“There has been a systemic history of certain groups being underrepresented. There is no such history for transfer students,” said Michael Moschella ’02, vice president of finance.
Pilar McKay ’04, an observer in the audience, has lived on a dormitory floor with mostly transfer students this year and offered her opinion to the S.A.
“These people are not freshmen, and if you want students with a different perspective, then you should vote for a transfer seat,” said McKay.
Another resolution was passed at the meeting to create an ad hoc committee to review Assembly elections and to make recommendations for the election process next year.
“The reason we have decided to create this resolution is because there was a problem with this year’s elections. We feel that this committee could help that,” said Nick Linder ’05, new student representative. Linder was referring to the elections committee finding that several elected students spent over the permitted limit, but were not penalized.
“Some of the things we hope to address include spending limits and members being pushed out of the race. We want the Assembly to be as fair as possible,” added Linder. “This year, I had a lot of respect for a lot of people, but I have lost that respect because of this election.”
Most members agreed that the election process needed to be revised, but progress was being made.
“If you guys thought that this year’s rules were bad or unfair, then you should have seen the rules before,” said Moschella. “Whether it be this year or next year, the Assembly should take steps to change the rules.”
The S.A. also voted to approve 10 new Student Activity Fee Commissioners (S.A.F.C.) and 11 alternates. The S.A.F.C. allocates funds from the Student Activity Fee to student organizations and clubs every year.
Archived article by Mackenzie Damon