Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Freshmen Manifesto

Around the time of the impeachment controversy, about twenty members of the freshmen class met to discuss the issues at hand and arrive at a consensus upon which they could vote as a block. This is the result of those initial meetings.

Observations and Suggestions on the Current Student Assembly Crisis.

We, the Freshmen class, recognize that all Dartmouth students have an interest in the stable and productive future of student government. We believe that the impending leadership crisis has the great potential to damage the authenticity of the Student Assembly and even threatens to destroy it. We have met and discussed possible solutions to bypass the impending crisis and hereby offer the following observations and propositions, which reflect our consensus.

Observation 1: Student government needs reform.

Student Assembly serves as the only organization with the mandate of the student body, but exists in an inferior or external role to important and powerful committees such as the Undergraduate Finance Committee, Council on Student Organizations, the Committee on Standards, Programming Board, and the Class Councils among others. We do not believe that Student Assembly needs to take a more active role in the day-to-day operations of these groups, nor do we believe that such a change would be beneficial to those groups or SA, but we do recognize that in order for student government to have legitimacy, these groups must be brought under the oversight and governance of the Student Assembly. We believe that the mandate to govern is given from the students to Student Assembly and from Student Assembly to other campus groups; without this connection there is no mandate.

Observation 2: Suspending or demolishing Student Assembly is not at this time beneficial to the Students of Dartmouth College or the cause of reform.

While we recognize that there must be a way to ensure that the immediately necessary progress occurs in timely manner, the destruction of Student Assembly would only serve to remove popular student input into the larger reform conversation.

Observation 3: While there are strong beliefs on both sides of the issue, the impeachment or no-confidence vote of the Student Body President, Tim Andreadis, would not result in the accomplishment of needed reform. The Executive Committee is not a one-man movement and the current leaders who have helped to guide SA would continue serving in their roles without the needed powers to enact change regardless.

We also believe that regardless of the justification, the impeachment or no confidence vote of the President damages the authority and credibility of Student Assembly and the future leaders of the Student Assembly. Therefore, with the understanding that such motions will be dropped or voted down, we propose the following legislation for reform.

WHEREAS, Student Assembly serves as the lone organization vested with the popular mandate of the students.

WHEREAS the current student governance is inefficient and could benefit from consolidation, greater transparency, and more student oversight.

WHEREAS there exist a moral imperative to bring groups including Undergraduate Finance Committee, Council on Student Organizations, the Committee on Standards, Programming Board, and the Class Councils, which are critical to student life on campus, together to deliberate and decide upon a new campus leadership structure

THEREFORE, LET IT BE PROPOSED that a Consolidation Committee vested with the power to change governing practices and the leadership structure on campus be created to consolidate student leadership organizations under Student Assembly as follows.

ONE: The Consolidation Committee shall be empowered to do whatever necessary to create a new centralized student government that best represents the interests of the students at Dartmouth College.

TWO: The committee will be made up of one (1) student representative each from the Undergraduate Finance Committee, Council on Student Organizations, the Committee on Standards, Programming Board, and each of the Class Councils, The Student Body President, two (2) students appointed by the Membership and Internal Affairs Committee of Student Assembly, three (3) Students selected by a vote of the General Assembly of SA; the President of the College or an appointed representative, the Dean of the College, the College Provost, and the Dean in charge of supervising Student Assembly. The non-voting Chairman shall be the current Student Assembly Parliamentarian.

THREE: The Committee will make final recommendations to Student Assembly as to new operating methods for Student Government of Dartmouth College and, if necessary, amendments to the SA Constitution.

FOUR: The Consolidation Committee will expire after a three-week period and upon its conclusion shall deliver its recommendation.

FIVE: The changes decided upon by this committee shall be enacted pending approval by the Student Assembly.

Observation 4: Students remain largely unaware of the actions of Student Assembly and have thereby raised criticism that it is ineffectual or unnecessary.

If student had greater knowledge of what Student Assembly has done and what it is doing, SA would gain more credibility among the students and administrators. Students who feel strongly about the way SA is conducting itself or the issues SA is considering would then be empowered to come and voice their opinion.

Observation 5: Student Assembly has been largely reliant on The Dartmouth, which has its own perspective, to spread information to the student body.
Student Assembly needs to directly inform the students of its actions and we propose the following legislation to achieve this end.

WHEREAS the general student body remains largely unaware of the activities of Student Assembly – what it has done and what it is planning on doing – and have thereby come to believe that SA is ineffectual, and

WHEREAS with greater information, students who feel strongly about an issue may come to General Assembly and voice their opinion and feel more involved in the process, and

WHEREAS greater exposure of the progress Student Assembly has made will give it greater credibility among students and administrators,

THEREFORE, LET IT BE PROPOSED that the Secretary of Student Assembly disseminate information to the Student Body on the current and future on-goings of Student Assembly weekly via blitz-mail and monthly via notices in the Hinman boxes.

LET IT FURTHER BE PROPOSED that Section IV, Article A, Bullet 2 be modified to read:
“To record the proceedings of General Assembly meetings and make available the minutes of those meetings to the Assembly and the student body through a weekly campus-wide BlitzMails which will also include upcoming legislation, and monthly through letters to the Hinman boxes outlining the past activities of Student Assembly. The minutes will also be made available in a centralized, and organized mechanism in hardcopy;”

Observation 6: As Freshmen, we are among the only honest power brokers in this troubling time, and while we are generally free of institutional bias, we are not disinterested and seek the amicable resolution of the current problems.

It is our hope that our plans and suggestions will taken seriously and that a resolution can be found.

The Freshmen Class

21 January 2007
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