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Restructuring The Senate

By Dan Cassino
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 28, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

recently, senators in the ASUA announcedthat they were looking for a way to restructure the student senate. They have finally recognized that the senate must be reorganized if it wants to represent the diversity of our campus. The proposal introduced here is a bit radical, but it would be for the better of everyone.

The idea is simple: Have each sorority and fraternity name one representative to the senate. The benefits behind this move are numerous, and I'll present as many of them as I can.

First, there are so many sororities and fraternities on campus, any significant group of them will be diverse, far more diverse than any group the student body could pick in a popular election.

Since there are roughly equal numbers of sororities and fraternities on campus, this proposal will also solve the problem of equal representation for men and women. Here, we have the opportunity to solve a problem that even Congress has been unable to solve. If we can deal with it on a local level, we have taken the first step towards solving it on a national level.

There are budgetary rewards to this proposal. It would save the cost of a popular election, and even small things such as elections can pile up in cost. Each sorority and fraternity can have their own nomination and election procedures. The minimal costs of having elections on such a small scale can be absorbed by the individual houses.

One of the major problems with having popular elections has always been the resources needed to run in them. Often, the best of our prospective leaders are disinclined from running by the effort and resources needed to compete in a popular election. The best and brightest among us are already involved in their houses, and it won't be any great task for them to translate the respect of their houses into support for their election.

Of course, houses wouldn't be required to have elections. Often in elections, it is the most popular rather than the best candidate who is chosen. Therefore, each house should have the option of deciding how their appointee to the senate should be chosen. This will allow us to be sure that each house will be represented by the best among them.

One of the biggest reasons for restructuring the senate is to increase the accountability of the individual senators. Bringing the elections down to a more local level would accomplish this goal admirably. Now, if students want to remove a senator from office, they have to go through a messy recall procedure. Under this system, if a house didn't like the way its senator voted on an issue, they could resolve the problem internally, without having to get 10 percent of the student body to sign a petition or some such nonsense.

Those students who are in fraternities and sororities are exactly the kind of people that we want in leadership positions. They are the most compassionate: fraternities and sororities put more back into the community than all of the other groups on campus. They are the best leaders: most of our presidents were in fraternities. Unfortunately, their activities are currently restricted by the meager budgets of their houses. Imagine the good that they could do if they had the extensive resources of the ASUA.

This new restructuring of the senate will also give us the opportunity to take care of another issue of some concern to the senators proposing the restructuring. The proposed Minority Student Leadership program could be rendered unnecessary by this plan. As sororities and fraternities are equally open to all, the leadership positions, and hence the ASUA will be a proportionate representation of all the groups on campus. Finally, the leadership of the student body will be filled with a good mixture of students from all walks of life, all classes, all races, all-inclusive. And isn't that what we really want?

Dan Cassino is a political science sophomore. His commentary appears every Thursday.