SA Senators did the right thing by censuring directors


Mike Theodore explains the allegations against Josh Venaas, chief of staff for the Student Association.

Kudos, Student Association Senators.

For as long as we can recall, SA directors and executives have been able to get by doing the bare minimum, skating by with little to no accountability whatsoever, and getting paid with student money to do it.

This week, however, the Senate has changed that.

With its intent to formally censure of no less than six SA directors – one of whom, Elliot Echols, is running for SA president – for less-than-stellar job performance, the Senate has shown that it is not willing to stand for the cavalier attitude SA directors have seemed to have toward their job for years.

The fact that the punishment is more ceremonial than anything is inconsequential; it’s the fact that senators are noticing how derelict their directors have been in their duties that’s the important thing.

For too long, we have been witness to exactly the kind of lackluster performance and lack of accountability from these directors that the SA Senate Procedural Committee alleges.

The SA Constitution and Bylaws have clear guidelines for how directors are to report to, and be held accountable by, the Senate – guidelines that have rarely, if ever, been followed in at least the last three years.

Perhaps worst of all is that the man responsible for corralling the directors, Chief of Staff Josh Venaas, seems to feel that it’s just not his problem – reportedly suggesting that senators “change the bylaws to be more specific on how to notify the Senate of the directors’ work,” according to a Thursday Northern Star article.

This is technically true, but Venaas’ argument doesn’t hold much water. The constitution clearly states that all directors must issue a “written or oral report of their activities to the Senate each month.” That’s quoted verbatim; there’s not much room for debate.

Directors need to report to the Senate. Just because the bylaws don’t state a specific method as to how doesn’t mean they don’t have to do it. Sorry, Mr. Venaas, but it sounds to us like you’re passing the buck.

One bone we do have to pick with the committee itself, however, is the lack of publicity surrounding the reviews. True, a Northern Star reporter was invited to the meeting, but only two directors were reviewed (the other four, the aforementioned Echols included, didn’t even show), and we only learned about it because one senator saw fit to email us directly.

These directors are the leaders of the Student Association. The Senate approves what the directors do, but the directors are the ones who are, in theory, actually doing it.

As such, these reviews should have been made much more public than they were in order to allow interested students and faculty the opportunity to hold these people accountable. This seems too important to have been done largely under-the-radar, especially with elections this week.

This would have been a good way not just to ensure that students were informed by what was going on in their Student Association, but also to ensure that the committee itself was acting responsibly, which became a point of contention at Sunday night’s Senate meeting.

Someone needs to watch the watchmen, after all.