The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

From the Beltway of the SGA: In-depth Analysis of your Student Government

Posted by iusbvision on October 9, 2006

I want to take sometime in this slow period of Student Government news to analyze the Student Government structure as a whole and give some thoughts on the legislative branch.  I think as we look at the future of student housing and the changes that will bring, I think we need to look at our government to ensure a proper representative structure is in place.

The major concern I see looking at the records is that the participation in the elections, specifically the amount of senatorial candidates, has severely decreased over the last three years.  With twelve seats chosen at-large, three years ago there were over 30 candidates which shrunk to 16 two years ago and down to 11 last year, the trend is definitely disconcerting, because you no longer have an elected legislative body.  It is now a Senate of those who showed up, since everyone who ran in May automatically was given a seat. 

While there are definitely some great Senators, friends of mine who were around last years stated how frustrating it was to not have any options, especially when they questioned the credentials of some of the candidates that would automatically win seats.

So we have defined the problem, now let us look at how to fix it.  My sister in-law is involved as a Senator at a similar university to ours and when talking to her about how things work with her government, I think there are some ideas that could be used here.  First of all every seat in our Senate is an at-large seat, meaning anyone can run for the spot.  Her university uses a style of Senate that is more representative. They divide the Senate up into 6 specific seats and 6 at-large seats. What are specific seats? These would be seats that are designated to represent each school.  So in order to qualify for the seat a student must have a major in that school.  They must still be elected but in our case this would ensure we have at least one student from each of the departments like the School of Education, the Division of Healthcare, the Raclin School of the Arts, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and the College of Liberal Arts and Science. They also throw in a graduate student seat for a total of six.  The other six seats would continue to be open to students from any area. While all these numbers and groups could be adjusted, the point is a more holistic representative body.  Then by communicating to the senior administration of each school or division, qualified candidates from each unit could be identified and encouraged to run.

While no plan is perfect, I believe it is time to look at a truly representative system of government that encourages the assistance of the administration.  Of course, the students need to be careful to what level they involve the administration, but one thing the faculty does well is identify first class students, and we can always use more of those in our government, if for nothing else than to give us options come election day.

Rashida Vindic
SGA Analyst

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