Editorial 10.25.13: Student Senate stuck in a rut

As the government shutdown came to a close last week, we saw what a lack of communication can do to a system which many refer to as “broken.” The topic was discussed by Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill, Oct. 18, who is featured in this week’s article “Durbin visits Bradley to talk government shutdown”.

We watched as a decreasingly bipartisan government ceased to function for more than two weeks as opinionated politicians clung stubbornly to their beliefs, from both sides of the political coin.

We saw grown men and women, who were sticking their fingers in their ears and humming, literally bring “inessential parts” of our governing body to a standstill. Durbin referred to the situation as “depressing, maddening.”

Is this scene familiar? Have we seen this kind of behavior before?

The Scout has. We’ve seen great debates by stubborn politicians fought over generalized fire codes, constitutions and multicultural funds. We’ve seen arguments over open positions, impeachment threats and discussion standstills.

We’re talking about Student Senate. And not just this current administration; this seems to be an ongoing trend.

Let us be clear, we’re reporters first, not politicians. While some of The Scout’s staff has served on Senate in the past, it’s not our focus right now to function within it, and our opinions should be weighed as such.

But what we’ve witnessed through our years of Senate observation and participation is a lack of planning and communication, between the executive board and other senators, between committees and between people who are supposed to be working together to help the student body.

As noted, this is a trend that we’ve seen hold true for years, beginning where our experience with Senate began in 2010, and most likely even before that.

We’ve seen great resolutions and legislation come from Senate. The printing initiatives started by the Academic Affairs committee last year, discussed in this week’s article “New printers in popular BU locations”, and 2012’s free condoms program offer more convenience and safety to students.

The “Rise of the Red” campaign beginning last semester and working its way through the Bradley population this fall seems to be taking root among students.

But what if those processes were streamlined through the floor of Senate’s general assembly meetings? What if the topics were discussed in committee meetings, questions were answered and mistakes were caught before the first reading, so more legislation could be voted on?

What if senators knew the vote counts on their resolutions before they brought the legislation to the floor, and they didn’t need to openly argue with each other during the public meetings?

We may not be diehard politicians at The Scout, but we do understand a thing or two about deadlines. While Senate’s isn’t until April, it’s still an expiration date for each senator’s term.

We want to see more from our Senate: more resolutions passed and more action taken. But are senators stuck in an inherited rut of spending too much time debating during public meetings?

We don’t know.

What we do know is that if the United States’ government can come to a standstill because people are being stubborn, then a university’s sure can too.

 

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