First, I would like to thank the Maroon for taking its time to research and inform readers about the recent absence of two members of College Council (CC) in last week’s editorial. Unfortunately, I was dismayed that the editorial seemed to make two assumptions about College Council members who are spending this fall abroad: first that they’ve already failed in their duties as Council members and second that we, the voter, can’t get rid of them if they do fail.
Does being abroad mean CC members automatically fail to live up to the promises for which they were elected? Not necessarily. Paris and Tanzania are not much farther than Evanston, digitally speaking. And while these members cannot participate physically, they can be present vocally due to Skype, as Eve Ewing was last meeting, or in the form of a briefed and ready proxy with whom they correspond regularly.
Are these measures enough? Only time will tell. And as time does tell, there is recourse for the constituents who feel their trust has been betrayed. CC positions are automatically vacated after three unexcused absences, a rule put in place to make sure each class has the four votes it rightly deserves. Under extreme measures, a Council member can also be removed from office via impeachment or recall election, the former initiated by a member of CC and the latter by voter petition.
The editorial blames the bylaws, which do not force candidates to disclose their plans to go abroad. While we’re exposing weaknesses of the bylaws, I should also point out that they do not require candidates to disclose whether they’ll attend every meeting or take the position seriously. These facts about a candidate’s commitment are for the voters to discern in the election process. If re-election is a sign of approval, Hollie Gilman’s second term as liasion to the Board of Trustees seems to indicate that voters approved of her commitment last year, despite her having studied abroad in China last fall.
While I do not wish to defend any candidate who withheld from voters plans to go abroad, I believe strongly in the voters’ inalienable right to kick anyone out of office who has misled or failed their constituents, including myself as your president.
So please, take action if you feel wronged by any member of SG. And this spring, ask tough questions of the people you’re electing. I know Ewing and Greg Gabrellas will have to work hard to serve their constituents this quarter from abroad, but I believe they will not let you down. And if I’m wrong, I’ll be the first one to sign the petition removing them from office.
Class of 2008
President of Student Government