September 26, 2010

Letter to the Editor: S.A. Needs a Reality Check

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To the Editor:

Re: “S.A. Election Reveals Student Body Apathy,” News, Sept. 24

As a former committee on the Student Assembly, we are amused that the S.A. finds it difficult to pinpoint the root of the student body’s lack of interest in campus governance. While we strongly agree with S.A. Director of Elections Charlie Feng’s ’11 statement that the S.A. is limited in its powers, it provides the main source of checks and balances on campus. Further, the argument that students don’t want to leave their footprint on this campus does not hold at an Ivy League university inhabited by thousands of over-achievers.The real flaw in the Student Assembly is that it neglects to fight for the key issues on campus that students actually care about (i.e.: group funding, housing issues and the Greek life debacle). Of the 14 resolutions proposed this semester, few directly pertain to bettering student life. In combination with the Office of Assemblies’ apparent unwillingness to work with students and a total absence of transparency (look for the meeting minutes from three weeks ago on the S.A. website), it is not surprising that students have given up on the S.A. Then, add the fact that the SAFC just spent over $500 on t-shirts while some student groups will go the semester without funding, it is obvious why students perceive voting in a campus election as useless.The worst part is that year after year, our representatives fail to see this. While public forums and e-mailing the student body are beneficial for increasing transparency, they are pointless when the very representatives that we elect debate issues that most students could care less about. Our representatives were elected to collect the opinions of the student body, while ensuring the adoption of passed resolutions instead of letting them rot on the President’s desk. They were not elected to promote their own internal agendas.The objective of the S.A. shouldn’t be to make itself more powerful, as the first dozen resolutions drafted this semester do. If our representatives simply fought to increase their constituency’s true voice on campus, interest in the Student Assembly would greatly increase.

Matt Koren ’12, for the general membership of the Student Innovation Group