This is the opinion of the Flyer News editorial board, which includes the two editors-in-chief and four section editors. While we strive to consider all sides in any given story, in this instance, we’ve found it necessary to unanimously urge change for the benefit of our organization and the campus.
The Student Government Association (SGA) Senate, which is comprised of 16 representatives (four from each class year) and four student directors, passed an ironically named transparency bill in late January.
It’s ironic because the senators rejected a section of the bill that would have required SGA to record how its members vote on legislation and resolutions. This effectively allows them to keep how they vote secret.
It was bizarre that SGA hadn’t been recording how individual senators voted, but now it’s concerning that a majority decided to block the sensible practice.
Junior Andrew Hubert told Flyer News in an article from our Feb. 12 issue titled “SGA Makes Changes to Student Voting Procedures, Campaign Finance” that the reason for voting against the record-keeping provision was that a voting record might adversely affect the senators’ futures.
“Most of us won’t believe the same things we do at 20 or 21 that we will as adults,” Hubert said. “We’re all still learning. Who knows how this could be used against us in the future?”
First, 20- and 21-year-olds are adults.
Leadership is not a stepping-stone for a resume. Though student government can often seem like kids in business formal playing at politics, the choices that SGA makes have an impact on this campus, which is comprised of nearly 15,000 students, faculty and staff. SGA representatives should not be held to lower expectations because they are young.
Second, for a university that prides itself on being for the common good, this is an incredibly self-interested rationale.
SGA representatives are elected by students. And, as SGA members love to point out, UD has one of the highest voter turnout rates among U.S. colleges for student government elections. Many of our students care, and they deserve to know how their representatives vote.
This is not a hypothetical problem. Three student representatives never responded to multiple requests for how they voted on a resolution that condemned comments on Instagram that told students of color they didn’t belong on campus for objecting to calling the student neighborhood the “ghetto.”
Third, it’s ineffective.
SGA meetings are open to students. Flyer News could easily assign a reporter to cover SGA’s weekly meetings to record and publicize how everyone votes.
That would be a waste of our resources, however, since SGA literally has an elected position – secretary – whose job, in theory, should be to record how senators vote.
UD is not without its problems. Inclusivity remains an issue on this campus. There were frequent bias incidents last semester. Students sometimes have to wait a number of weeks to access the counseling center. Members of campus are raped and harassed.
Looking forward, St. Patrick’s Day paired with probable March Madness success could prove interesting. The administration announced it might make significant changes to the school’s budget. And many students are demanding PATH point reform.
SGA is the nominal student voice in addressing all of these issues. But how can we expect them to be our legitimate voice when a majority won’t even tell us how they voted?
The privilege of being able to lead comes with the duty of doing so with integrity despite perceived risks. We deserve leaders who are courageous enough to recognize what is at stake in this community rather than individuals cowering behind their ambitions.
We applaud the SGA senators who voted for the record-keeping provision and urge those who didn’t to consider the message they’re sending.
What follows is our names because we don’t hide our opinions:
Arts & Entertainment Editor