Demanding student engagement: The necessity of community involvement in College Council

With College Council (CC) elections in full swing, the lack of student participation in the election process and in student government in general is concerning. Only seven of the 17 races to be decided this week are contested, attendance at both debates was shockingly poor and students have not taken advantage of the opportunity to attend weekly CC meetings throughout the semester. 

While we acknowledge that students are understandably occupied with other activities that may prevent them from running for CC, the student body must remain actively engaged in its government. Collecting information about candidates through the public debates or reading the candidates’ self-nominations are simple and integral steps to ensuring that CC accurately represents the student body.

On Feb. 1, CC approved a bylaw change that removed the requirement that candidates for treasurer must serve on the Finance Committee (FinCom) before running for treasurer. The bylaw change was proposed in order to permit the candidacy of a student who had no previous experience on FinCom. While we are concerned that this change effectively reduces the necessary qualifications for a critical and difficult CC position, we find it more worrisome that the proximal beneficiary of this bylaw change is a current member of CC. That this change was passed without the slightest resistance from students indicates that the student body has become overly lax in its oversight of CC.

While motivated students have retroactive access to the bylaw changes through CC’s minutes, a lack of student engagement with our government has already permitted CC to approve potentially deleterious changes. It is imperative that bylaw modifications only be made when the standing rules and regulations are insufficient or obsolete. The use of bylaw modification for the promotion of CC-specific interests is precisely the kind of action that promotes CC as an insular institution and causes students to further lose faith in the organization. The student body has accepted these treasurer requirement changes through disinterest, surrendering the opportunity to critically evaluate its ramifications on the quality of student government. Lack of awareness of the bylaw change – compounded by the fact that this ticket for treasurer is uncontested – demonstrates a concerning student detachment from CC proceedings. This detachment is further evidenced by the immense number of uncontested CC positions in this year’s election. In order to uphold CC as a viable representative body, students must take interest in their government, a charge that is as much about awareness as it is about action. Increased vigilance and involvement will ensure that CC continues to place the students’ best interests above its own.