Noah Gordon ’14 writes in response to the 4/25 JC ruling and the current state of the AAS.
The Judiciary Council ruling of 4/25 and the current conversation about holding a new election are incredibly problematic. While some of the motivations behind the original elections complaint were completely valid, the conflict now boils down to a mean-spirited, procedural witch hunt with worrying implications.
My information about last night’s meeting comes second-hand and may not be entirely reliable, but that’s beside the point. The conversation currently taking place on the Senate floor is about impeaching a president because she printed off posters slightly past an arbitrary limit, and then didn’t use them. The original drive to overturn the JC’s ruling in this case raised concerns with the precedent set by its definition of “campaign expenditure.” The summit of irony is that, in a quest to mobilize the student body to effect change by popular vote, far more dangerous precedents have been set.
The precedents set by the most recent ruling are as follows: (1) because the student body was able to overturn a JC ruling, the student body can now make any decision by majority vote; and (2) because the decision was rationalized by saying that it’s okay to violate the constitution if the JC Chair signs off on it, that one person alone may at any time bend the constitution to their will. The danger here is made clearly apparent by the fact that immediately after the ruling the senate, in a vague appeal to popular justice, is attempting to wield the student body like some sort of blunt instrument against the student body president.
The constitution exists for a reason. The separation of powers exists for a reason. I don’t mean to tout the constitution like some holy scripture, but I do consider it the glue that keeps our student government functional.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that the vast majority of the student body has lost its faith in student government over the past few weeks. Only one-fourth of students even voted in the last referendum, and they become increasingly jaded with each new complication. Many of us have worked very, very hard for the past four years to turn the turgid, homogenous institution that was the senate of past years into the representative body it is today. But now I worry that, for no clear reason, the AAS is coming apart at the seam.
With that all said: the election is passed, and the ruling is made. This all happened in the past. My time is up, and this is your AAS now – not just the senators, but you, the students reading. I encourage you to wade through your biases and think about the far-reaching implications of the current discussion. Continue to attend senate meetings and make your voice heard. And if you remain dissatisfied, remember that power has decidedly moved to your hands. All it would take is 10 percent of each class to get a “dissolve the AAS” motion onto a referendum, and judging by the current atmosphere it would most assuredly pass.