The Student Assembly is set to vote Monday night on a proposal to overhaul our student government. This is a vote not only on the structure and function of our government. It is an up-down vote on whether the SA is responsibly acting in our best interests.
Our thoughts are simple: The incorporation and constitutional reorganization of the Student Association should be pushed until next year. That’s it.
Sure, becoming a full-fledged incorporation would supposedly solidify our independence from Binghamton University, but no one seems to have a good explanation for how our independence is being threatened. We know there isn’t some big bad administrator battering down the SA office door, since we know that administrators themselves have given the SA the go-ahead for the changes.
One of the most thrown-around reasons for becoming a big-shot corporation is that it would protect the E-Board members from personal liability. That is, if someone were to sue the SA, the leadership would be personally on the line. And while we don’t want our friendly SA executives sticking their necks out unnecessarily, this is: 1. not an issue for the average student; and 2. not pressing enough to rush through the supposedly necessary flip side of the SA Inc. coin — the constitutional overhaul.
There is certainly room for improvement in our student government. Nigh a fortnight past, we wrote on this very same page that the SA, as a system, was broken. That condemnation, though, was in reference to the ability of individual SA actors to abuse the system to achieve their personal — if not dastardly — ends. The new constitution does not address that concern. If anything, it exacerbates the problem.
If we were to rewrite the constitution, we would almost certainly start with the Assembly. But the new constitution doesn’t try to fix the Assembly, it simply gets rid of it. All the while, the overhaul movement’s leaders shout “Efficiency! Accountability! Transparency!” as evidence for some magical transformative power that an Assembly-less SA would automatically provide.
Take a step back. Breathe. This does not need to happen right now.
Next Monday, when this thing comes to a vote, it will have only been two weeks since the proposal — first drafted in a closed-door meeting of hand-picked SA insiders — was publicly introduced.
Last Monday, at the aforementioned unveiling (i.e. force feeding) of the new constitution, Daniel Rabinowitz, SA vice president for academic affairs, said that attaching the referendum to the elections was the only way to democratically test the legislation with the student body. But due to the post-Parade-Day blizzard, it’s already too late for that, and his reasoning wasn’t sound in the first place.
The only democratic way to consider, draft, study, edit, reconsider, reedit, finalize, vote on, then pass a complete reconstruction of a government is to take your time, get it right and educate those who will be affected.
Bottom line: there’s no way BU students will benefit from a rat race to a half-baked overhaul of their government. There ought to be a comprehensive study of similar governmental organization at other schools to find out what works and what just makes things more difficult for students.
The current proposal makes as much sense as a lovely Parade-Day spring weekend followed immediately by a state-of-emergency-inducing flash blizzard.