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Editorial: At-large representatives fill spaces for inattentive or overcommitted members

April 8, 1997


Student Congress

At-large representatives fill spaces for inattentive or overcommitted members

The issue:

Student Congress



Our view:

Students should look more carefully at the

representatives they elect.

As student elections approach, University students need to take a closer look at how they are represented in Student Congress.

Student Congress has 52 members who are supposed to represent different groups of students. For example, there's a representative for each residence hall, a representative from the school of music and a slew of Arts and Sciences representatives.

These are representatives who are elected by the student body at Diadeloso. Students, through voting, select the people who represent them in Student Congress. Or do they?

At this point in the semester, 17 of those 52 representatives are designated 'at-large' representatives. This means they have joined Student Congress since the last election and were not elected by the student body at large. They joined Student Congress to replace another member who had resigned and were approved by a vote taken in a Student Congress executive session.

These are representatives who were not elected by the student body. The student body elected 17 other people, but they were unable to complete their tenure as representatives. In their places, 17 new at-large representatives were selected from within Student Congress.

Is this a true representation of the student body? If there were only a handful of at-large representatives, this wouldn't necessarily be a problem. Those few people who were hired from within, so to speak, might not carry so much weight. But we're talking about 17 people here. That's about one-third of our student governing board--the people who allocate money from our Student Life Fund and serve as the voice for the entire student body--who were not elected by the student body.

But the problem does not lie with those 17 representatives. The problem starts when the student body elects representatives who don't complete their terms. If student voters would vote wisely, looking carefully to find candidates who are willing to attend meetings and will manage to stick with Student Congress, our student leadership body would be stronger for it. Those who are chosen to represent the student body should remember this show of trust by giving the most precious commodity of the modern American-- time.

Student Congress should examine the process of choosing at-large members. These replacements must often end up being friends and roommates of current members--which defeats any hope of having a truly representative, diverse governing body. If a legitimate vacancy does open up, the best representative from the area the previous one came from should be sought so that true representation can continue.

To be fairly represented, the student body needs to elect students on Dialdeloso who will be able to stay around and represent them. The students who accept the challenge must make good on their promises.

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