When I found out that our Student Government used their last meeting of the year to pay themselves starting next year, I can’t say I was surprised. Their proposal allocates our student life fees to pay our president and two vice presidents almost $10,000 a year. This is just the latest iteration of student government ignoring either its own procedures or any semblance of transparency.
I am a Fourth Year and have been the president of College Republicans for over three years, and in my years of dealing with Student Government I have been unimpressed, to say the least. In my second year, College Council brazenly ignored its own rules of parliamentary procedure and passed a ridiculous Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions resolution that remains illegal under their own bylaws to this very day. Even “three weeks later, it [was] unclear how members of College Council (CC) voted on crucial issues.”
Shortly after College Council members hid how they voted on divestment from Israel, they “voted to avoid up-or-down votes on resolutions calling for University divestment from China and for Blue Chips’ divestment from companies associated with Israel in the name of human rights.” When I presented these resolutions, I wanted to present College Council with the opportunity to act consistently after they opened a Pandora’s box of divestment. College Council ultimately decided to table any discussion of these resolutions, all the while obfuscating who voted to divest from Israel.
My experience with our General Assembly later that year was even more disheartening. After our admittedly terrible State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid were shut down by students and community members on campus I presented a straightforward resolution to our General Assembly with the support of almost 50 professors that condemned that these events were shut down. Alvarez was in the midst of (unsuccessfully) running for reelection and the people who shut her event down prevented students from actually holding her accountable; Eid was shut down amidst death threats for being too pro-Israel.
The General Assembly followed College Council’s lead in ignoring its own bylaws and taking a hand vote (with no record of who voted which way) and tabling my resolution indefinitely, even though a representative motioned to pass it, which supersedes any motion to table.
Last year I attempted to present a resolution in support of our Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression, also called the Stone Report. However, the “General Assembly was adjourned before it was able to hear all of the items on the agenda. A resolution in support of the so-called ‘Stone Report,’ was pushed to the next General Assembly meeting, as were proposed changes to SG’s governing documents which will require a student body referendum.” Unsurprisingly, my resolution never resurfaced even though I was told that it would be brought up the following meeting.
This year, our lame duck student government bravely waited until the final meeting of the year to usher in a resolution urging that our student government presidents and vice presidents get paid almost $10,000. In over three years of running College Republicans I have received a grand total of $0, and there are countless RSOs on campus who have a vastly greater impact on our campus experiences than student government has, and there was no consideration whatsoever to pay any of them. To be clear, I oppose any broad-based attempts to pay RSO leaders and would personally donate any money I would have received directly to College Republicans. With that said, I think it is the height of arrogance for student government to take the last meeting of the year, while all of us are preparing for finals, to reward themselves for winning what is in essence a glorified popularity contest—our elections have even less competition than aldermanic elections in Chicago!
All of this is to say that our Student Government’s track record is sorely lacking when it comes to responsiveness, transparency, and accountability. Time after time, our Student Government has ignored its constituents, disregarded its bylaws, and evaded transparency. Now it thinks it earned a raise. Fortunately we will all have a say in the matter with today’s referendum to repeal this absurdity. Time will tell if voters agree but given the momentum that has led to this upcoming repeal vote my sense is that they are as fed up with this system as I am, and rightfully so.
Vote to repeal the resolution here. Voting closes at 4 today.