Op/Ed: Student Government continues on a destructive path
By David A Komorowski II
The Board of Elections met Jan. 25 to decide the fate of a proposed referendum to change the organization of the Student Government, which would be called the Student Association.
SG Comptroller Joe St.Marie and the Students Association Campaign were brought up on charges of campaign violations, which included campaigning and seeking endorsements on Jan. 20, before campaigning was to begin. The BOE found the campaign not guilty of the violations. BOE members resigned.
This should be old news right? We're in March. The referendum failed. We should be moving on to bigger and brighter things. Wrong.
When I heard this story about the "Show Trial" and the Student Association referendum, I applied for kicks and giggles. When I applied, I had no idea how screwed up SG was becoming. There was a lull in activity within SG after the referendum election, sort of like the calm before the storm.
The Senate and BOE have recently been locking horns when it comes to election policy and regulations. SG delayed a decision on the Election Policy Book, which was supposedly submitted by the BOE on Feb. 13 and received by the Senate on Feb. 16, 24 hours before the Senate was to meet for their weekly meeting. Why such a huge gap in time?
The Senate later came to a decision on Feb. 24, a week after their Feb. 17 meeting. They made considerable changes to the Policy Book. Being a BOE member, I saw these changes firsthand. The considerable changes to the Policy Book included taking out regulations, which, in my opinion, were necessary. If we, the BOE, allowed this, we'd be letting corruption run rampant.
Amongst the Senates omissions:
1. Policies that required campaigns to report the amount of money they were spending toward a campaign, either through an SG issued purchase card or receipts of purchases.
2. Polices that prohibited current members of SG (executives, Judicial Board/BOE members, senators, etc.) from campaigning for candidates other than themselves. However, they would still be allowed to endorse.
The removal of those policies smells of corruption. There are limits on how much money you are allowed to spend on a campaign. How are we to know if you're abiding by those limits? We're not running super PACs here. This isn't the U.S. Government. At the same time, we pay into the SG through our Student Activities fee included in tuition costs. How am I to know what my money is actually being used on?
The BOE and I voted on the Standing Election Policy Book and decided to put those regulations back in, albeit not unanimously. However, since the needed super majority was met, we passed the changes and would have submitted it back to the Senate for Review... but that wasn't meant to be.
The SG Senate is already livid with us. Amongst the bills and policies passed at that Feb. 24 meeting was a bill called the "Freer and Fairer Elections" bill, which was supposed to dissolve the current form of the Board of Elections and replace it with a new set of bylaws and organization. The dissolution of the BOE would take place next year. This was passed in the Senate.
On March 3, the bill which was already passed on Feb. 24, was reintroduced with one change: that the BOE be dissolved effective immediately.
So now I've been laid off by the SG for doing my job. What should I do now? What should we do to better the student body? This bureaucracy is inhibiting real change and real student advocacy. I almost wish the Student Association passed, albeit I'm not thrilled at the fact that the campaign received a slap on the wrist for an obvious election violation.
David A Komorowski II is a junior in the School of International Service and a former Board of Elections member.