By Wildcat Opinions Board
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday October 24, 2002
Last week's resignation of Arizona Students' Association task force director Jenny Rimsza not only marked the loss of the UA's most experienced student lobbyist, but also revealed the recent implementation of a disturbing new policy that prevents student lobbyists from voting their conscience on important issues.
Rimsza said she resigned because of a new rule instituted by student body president Doug Hartz, who oversees all the UA's student lobbyists. According to that rule, all four UA delegates to the Arizona Students' Association, which decides official student stances on key issues like tuition, must vote as a bloc on issues that Hartz deems detrimental to the university.
Hartz's move surprised some former presidents and other student government officials around the state, who said that allowing representatives to speak their minds is critical to preserving a diversity of opinions.
They couldn't be more right. Though neither the ASA bylaws nor the UA student government constitution prevent Hartz from taking this action, it's a disturbing signal that he cares more about preserving his own power than allowing diverse viewpoints to be presented.
Hartz already has the power to appoint ASA delegates. He could have appointed spineless clones who would have voted exactly as he asked.
Wisely, he didn't.
He appointed Rimsza, an intelligent, experienced lobbyist who knows the issues and thinks for herself. But then he silenced her.
In effect, Hartz told Rimsza that she and two of her colleagues in UA's delegation to ASA didn't matter.
His statement that the four ASA appointees still discuss the issues before voting is of little consolation. In his role as student body president, he can hire and fire ASA representatives whenever he deems it appropriate. An ASA delegate who votes against Hartz's wishes puts himself or herself in an exceedingly vulnerable position.
As an elected representative of the UA student body, one of Hartz's top priorities should be encouraging the free exchange of ideas. His new policy stifles that ideal.