Tuesday night the Student Government senate voted by a 21-vote majority to support USF President Judy Genshaft in the decision to fire Professor Sami Al-Arian. However, it isn’t the vote to support Genshaft that should interest students but instead the number of senators who abstained from voting. Our senators are elected to represent students and make informed decisions, not to sit on the sidelines and do nothing.
At least 11 senators abstained from voting, for whatever reasons. The St. Petersburg Times cited one reason as senators didn’t have time to poll the entire student body. Since when did that stop a senator or any other delegate from making a decision? They were voted in and expected to research issues on their own. Besides, senators had since Sept. 26 to get student feedback concerning Al-Arian.
These students should have had the courage to speak their minds. They knew when they ran for senate they would most likely deal with intimidating people, such as the president. Instead, these senators shirked their duties and misrepresented students by not even voting one way or another.
Surely not all students agree with the senate’s decision to support Genshaft. It is a poor representation of this campus when one third of the senate refuses to vote.
Even worse was the fact that SG senate president Sammy Kalmowicz abstained. How can other senators be expected to be leaders in times of controversy when their own president paves the way for apathy and indecision? Student body president Mike Griffin said that if students didn’t like the senate’s vote, “they have the power of voting” and can bring about change next term.
Hopefully, students will use that power and elect senators who will represent the student body and not sit idly on important issues. Not all students may agree with the senate’s vote, but at least the 21 who voted should be respected for at least being able to make decisions.