When Student Government (SG) President Matt Kennedy and other members of the One Campus slate ran for office last year, they promised greater transparency, accountability, and communication with students. Those goals have not gone completely unrealized. Kennedy, for example, has been writing consistently on the SG Blog. The SG website, complete with copies of the minutes of various SG committee meetings, is more useful than ever.
But the minutes for the various councils and funding committees reveal a disappointing lack of transparency in one crucial aspect: They do not disclose who voted for which resolutions. The minutes list the number of votes for and against each motion, as well as abstentions. Without publishing the results of a roll-call vote, it is nearly impossible for students to know how their representatives voted. This, according to SG, is exactly how it should be.
“We don’t like to share who voted for and against motions, because the meetings are closed as we’d like our members to be able to debate and vote how they believe without repercussions,” explained Student Government Finance Committee chair Kati Proctor in an e-mail interview.
Allowing SG representatives to do whatever they like sounds charitable enough, but it partially defeats the point of elections in the first place. Having to defend an unpopular decision comes with the turf when you join a representative body, even one as small as SG. When SG members pass resolutions on important campus issues and cast votes to allocate nearly $1.5 million of the Student Activities Fee, their constituents have a right to know where their representatives stood.
SG allows anyone to sit in on non-funding meetings to see who votes for what so that it can maintain the guise of transparency. But no one really expects students to show up at a College Council meeting, so unless individual votes are recorded, it’s an empty gesture. SG wants the appearance of transparency with, as Proctor put it, no repercussions.
When students decide whether to re-elect incumbent SG members, as they will do next month, they should be able to base their decisions on the incumbent representatives’ voting record. In his final weeks in office, Kennedy should fulfill the spirit of his campaign promise and start having SG votes recorded in the minutes.
The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Editor-in-Chief–elect, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional Editorial Board member.