Discourse / Editorials / Student Senate / February 15, 2012

Thoughts from the Embers: Senate represents?

On Jan. 18 we wrote our editorial on the turnover problems that were rampant in this year’s Student Senate. This included three of the four executive positions changing hands so far this year and attendance issues with the senators. While Senate did respond with a new amendment that aimed to clean up the attendance issue, it has only exacerbated the issue.

The new amendment has enabled three senators to select interim replacements and one committee chair to permanently depart. Their departures allow them to choose their own replacements and provide little reprimand for diminishing the representative power that makes Senate effective.

Certainly there is a check on the interim replacement, because Senate must approve the replacements, but without a check from the whole student body, these interim senators no longer represent the students. The check, however, is unlikely to serve its purpose because it is difficult to see a moment where Senate would decline an interim senator. The replacement representatives have fewer obligations to serve the students they should be representing, but more obligations to serve the senators they replaced and the Senate members that approved their ascension.

Johnathan Ebbers’ departure from Senate resulted in a makeshift election to replace him. The choice for the tech chair’s replacement was limited to two candidates and saw a turnout of only 151 students to select JC Weinberg as the next tech chair. This will likely see him maintain both the post as interim vice president and tech chair. This power consolidation may not prove problematic in a way anyone can see but hurts the representative validity of the posts.

The turnover in this year’s Senate is unmatched by any recent Senate and has truly hindered their ability to properly serve the student body. The Senate has a chance to be a very influential part of Knox College but has yet to show that this year.

Senate has become more of a symbolic entity on campus because of its inability to bring any major changes to the Knox campus. These major changes are unable to happen since Senate is taken less seriously as turnover keeps happening and continuity doesn’t last from term to term and week to week.

As it has become a symbolic entity, it is vital that it can properly serve as the voice of the student body if it hopes to bring any important changes to the campus. Without this authentic voice, embodied by senators who are beholden and connected to their constituents, Senate loses the strength against the administration when enacting any controversial items.

Since the new attendance policy has been instated, Senate has become more of what 25 students want, rather than what the student body wants because of the turnover and internal selection of senator replacement. The replacement of executive members often yields a small turnout with limited choices and therefore does not provide true representation of the student body.

The student body seems to have ignored these issues and have not put much pressure to properly fix these and reprimand the members who are failing to meet their duties as senators. Without a functioning Student Senate, the voice of the Knox student is hindered at the college.

TKS Staff

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