Student Senate President Gordon Barratt complained about the lack of student engagement in Senate in an op-ed piece on Nov. 3. Unfortunately, there is a deeper issue in Senate that needs to be addressed before the student engagement issue can be fixed.
The internal turnover of Senate members has become a very large problem that can no longer be ignored.
Three of the four spots on the Executive Board of Senate will change hands this term. Sara Ahmed is returning as Treasurer, replacing interim treasurer Max Galloway-Carson ’11; junior Vice President Michael Gasparro is being replaced for the term while he is abroad by junior J.C. Weinberg; and junior Secretary Justin Steele is stepping down due to schedule conflicts. An election will be held next week.
From terms abroad to stepping down due to schedule conflicts, the only executive position that will remain the same this year is the President’s post. This changeover brings a handful of issues to jobs that should be maintained by one person over the full year.
On top of the changeover on Executive Board, there has been changeover on committee chairs and up to five absent representatives out of 20 during the weekly meeting. The commitment of Senate members to their elected posts should be second only to their academic studies because Senate is a vital cog to Knox. All hopeful members should be aware of the commitments that come along with being elected before they are elected.
The use of interim representatives to fill posts causes its own set of issues. The main problem is the position and intent of the interim members not always being in line with the representatives who were voted to the post. Post-baccalaureate members have filled some of the interim positions. Filling these very important posts with graduated students limits the proper representation of the current student body.
This turnover forces Senate to spend their time electing interim members, electing new full-time members and focusing on other bureaucratic issues with the turnover instead of using their time on more important tasks.
The lack of continuity in the Executive Board hinders long-term goals and projects from being fulfilled. For example, the plan to switch to Gmail from Zimbra has now died since the departure of Galloway-Carson. It also prevents the executive that was rightfully elected by the student body from accomplishing the ideas and holding the positions that they ran on last fall.
The downturn of commitment to their responsibilities in being a member of Senate is disappointing and hurts the level of respect they receive from the student body. No longer should we elect members who cannot make the sort of long-term commitment to Senate that is desirable for continuity and efficiency.