Letter to the Editor: Student Government Must Be Overhauled

Submitted by Kevin Rhine and Becca Reynolds

The BU Student Government used to be a source for change at the university. Previous governments were able to initiate and accomplish desperately needed and widely appreciated policy changes at the university that are now taken for granted. Lately, this has not been true of our Student Government.

Several weeks ago, the already-fractious StuGov system at BU splintered even more with demands of ridding the Executive Board of “discrimination.” Following a change.org petition demanding the removal of certain members of the E-Board, the StuGov Judicial Commission has claimed that these members of the E-Board have not been doing their job. The Senate has taken the unprecedented step of holding full impeachment hearings on these claims on Monday, November 9th, for two members of the StuGov E-Board.

This is unacceptable.

It is unacceptable that we as a student body are being represented by those who would rather pursue division than unity.

It is unacceptable that the Senate is spending a significant portion of its limited meeting time to consider matters of little relative importance to the student body.

It is unacceptable that the E-Board has to defend itself in front of the very legislative body that it is supposed to be working with.

This is shameful.

Students always ask, “but what does Student Government actually do?” The Student Government Constitution states that StuGov’s responsibilities are “to protect student rights and provide for our needs through a representative democracy, and to serve as a liaison between the student body and the administration.”

In practice, the Student Government and its predecessor, the Student Union, were able to accomplish initiatives that were fitting for a body with the influence and responsibility that the current Student Government should have. Some of the accomplishments of past leadership have been changing the official guest policy, lowering the price of print jobs, and making changes to the infamous Make-A-Difference Monday.

Last year, members of the 2014 E-Board, Senate, and Cabinet met for a multi-cultural competency training led by Christian Cho, the former assistant director of the Howard Thurman Center. The discussion topic eventually pivoted to a what-if-our-Student Government-looked-different talk.

What if our Senate wasn’t a senate, but some other body of people? What if we had a collective and formed coalitions instead? All of this talk was hopeful and could have brought great change to StuGov, but people were afraid of losing what little power and representation they had left.

It would be a huge undertaking to revamp the current system. And a change might not have worked. But the current system isn’t working for the people who need it most, the students. So what’s the harm in trying something that might make an improvement?

So, yes, change is needed. Change is desperately needed. However, this change will not be created by slicing the current Executive Board in half in an act of tyranny by the Senate and the Judicial Commission. Change will be possible when the current Senate and the current E-Board work together to make a more effective and efficient government body that represents the interests of its students, streamlines the process of initiating and pursuing relevant policy changes, and develops its members’ leadership abilities.

What it should not be doing is impeaching its own members.

Kevin Rhine is a junior majoring in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology with a Master’s in Biotechnology in the College of Arts & Sciences. He is a former Cabinet member, a current undergraduate researcher and a coordinator for the ERC program OrgoPrep.

Becca Reynolds is a junior majoring in Health Sciences in Sargent College. She is a former senator, a current program manager at the Community Service Center, and a staff writer for BU Culture Shock.

Last week, Student Government E-Board members released a statement regarding the accusations brought against certain e-board members who are being put on trial tonight, Monday, Nov, 9 at 8 p.m. in Photonics 211.

A previous version of this post stated the incorrect room number. The Senate meeting will be held in PHO 211.

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