Building SA representation back up must be a priority for members, all students
The Student Association is supposed to be the voice of the entire undergraduate student body at Syracuse University. In its ideal form, the organization brings peers from each social and academic interest together so that nearly every faction of the student body is represented.
Unfortunately, it rarely works this way.
According to SA’s latest figures, 27 percent of SU undergraduates do not have representation in SA. While some schools and colleges are well represented, like the College of Arts and Sciences at 91 percent and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at 86 percent, others are severely lacking.
Only 40 percent and 50 percent of students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, respectively, are represented. The iSchool has the greatest underrepresentation, with zero of three member positions filled.
The only way SA can function true to its intention of being entirely representative is if the general assembly exists at 100 percent capacity. With a large portion of the student body — therefore, the constituency — unrepresented, students like those from the iSchool have no voice in the important procedures of student government. This means no input whatsoever on policies from how money is distributed among student groups to what projects will be completed for enhancing student life.
Unfortunately, the general assembly seems to operate like a “revolving door,” said Jennifer Bacolores, Board of Elections and Membership chair. Near the end of the 55th session under the leadership of then-President Neal Casey, the assembly reached nearly 100-percent capacity. The high percentage of representation dropped sharply, however, with the beginning of the 56th session and President Dylan Lustig’s term.
This common revolving-door trend proves the quality of each candidate is equally as important as, if not more important than, the quantity of recruits. If members do not have staying power, who will complete the large initiatives and promises made to the rest of the student body?
Though Bacolores said candidates now endure a much more intensive screening process than in the past, it is ultimately up to the members of the general assembly to elect which students will become their fellow student legislatures.
Therefore, the responsibility to make SA truly representative and comprised of dedicated student leaders falls on the current members of the organization, as well as the student body.
Students cannot become interested or involved in student government if they are not aware one exists. Though attempting to inform the SU population has been a focus of SA in the past, efforts need to continue further.
Representatives should be approaching iSchool students daily to explain their peers’ lack of voice. The cabinet should be sending campus-wide emails to notify each student of the organization and make clear that the goal is to build a cohesive government.
As students, it is also our job to be aware of the governing bodies on campus that affect our daily lives. Being knowledgeable about, or being a part of, student government has nothing to do with an interest in politics. Rather, it is about being a responsible citizen and having the information to use resources necessary to make a change.
A democratic system like SA cannot truly function without each faction of its constituency represented. Only 73 percent of students at SU have a voice in our student government. Come on iSchool, let’s change that.
Rachael Barillari is a junior political science and Middle Eastern studies major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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