April 18, 2014
In a major development on Monday April 14, Student Assembly voted to reduce the number of student representatives per class from five to four. This new legislation will soon reach the student body for a vote that could affect upcoming elections. The move comes after rigorous debate over the last few weeks, in which SA first considered reducing the number of representatives per class to three but ended up settling on four. In a society that normally involves government expansion and endless bureaucracy, a reduction in the size of our student government is a great step for SA. This change will benefit the student body by improving student assembly’s efficiency, making elections more competitive and improving students’ relationship with their representatives.
One important effect of the proposed change will be improved efficiency in SA. Most of the campus legislation that comes out of SA starts in 12 committees; these committees can quickly become inefficient with more people in the room. With a reduced number of representatives from each class, the committees will get more input from each of their members and work through things faster. More work will get done in a timely fashion, meaning that SA will be able to pass more resolutions and meet their goal of a greater presence in the campus community.
Reducing the number of representatives per class will also make SA elections more competitive. SA has had problems in the past with a lack of candidates for each student election. In the most recent elections, five candidates from the Class of 2015 ran unopposed for five spots. Last spring, only four candidates ran, meaning that voters had to add a write-in candidate to the mix. The candidates ran lackluster campaigns because they knew they were going to win the positions. Though they certainly may have worked hard once in office, they had little pressure to do so because they knew that their spots were secure.
With more competitive elections, candidates for class rep positions will have to run fierce campaigns and will not have as much job security once elected – meaning that while in office they will have more pressure to perform. Recently the student assembly has increased its presence in the campus community, which will likely result in more contested elections with up to 10 candidates contending for the four spots.
A smaller number of representatives per class will also increase the accountability of SA. With only four student delegates, it will be easier for students to recognize and approach their representatives with any issues or suggestions they might have. Representatives will also be expected to actually attend assembly and committee meetings because their voices will hold more weight.
The proposed change certainly has its opposition. Those against the change make the point that students will not be adequately represented with a reduced number of class delegates. However, with so many unopposed elections, the students are inadequately represented in student assembly. The reduction in the size of student government will increase accountability and efficiency. I encourage students to vote for these changes in legislation in the coming weeks.