When Student Government forgot about the students

On March 27, 2014

 

Who needs Netflix and HBO when perhaps the most intriguing drama of the season, rife with questionable ethics, self-aggrandized importance and fiery rounds of finger pointing, can be tuned into just by paying attention to Student Government during this student body presidential election election cycle?

While perhaps providing some extended entertainment for those who finished binge watching “House of Cards” or “Scandal” too quickly, as the Supreme Court points fingers at the Election Rules Committee (ERC) for allegations of “manifested bias” and not providing “due process” and the ERC fires back the same allegations and “abuse of power,” the ultimate victim of this petty comedy-turned-tragedy is the student voice.

After two voting cycles, a Supreme Court hearing, an appeal and pending investigations to impeach three Supreme Court justices based on accusations of threats and unsavory practices, the voices of the thousands of students who voted in the general and runoff election were essentially deemed less important than petty battles of ego — between the ERC and Supreme Court, which have been in a process of tit-for-tat appeals and accusations since last fall over issues of lesser substance.

Essentially, the outcome of this election was decided not by the 4,928 students who voted in the general election and the 3,651 students who voted in the runoff, but by the “grown-up” — Dean for Students Michael Freeman.

While Freeman’s decision Wednesday reflected the same outcome as the student vote — which he acknowledged the importance of in his commentary of the ruling — the fact remains that a dangerous precedent has been set by allowing a university-appointed administrator to select the leader of the student body.

Essentially, this election cycle has handed away the power students have in selecting the individual who could possibly serve as their sitting representative on the Board of Trustees. The president oversees the multi-pronged agency that is responsible for the spending and allocation of more than $14 million in the Activities and Services fees they pay and who can serve as a liaison between students
and administrators.

The function of Student Government is to represent the student voice, and those elected into office by the students — or appointed to office by those elected — should not forget the constituency they serve nor the importance of preserving its opportunity to be expressed.

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