How to make students care about the SA


By Aaron Brooks

Students should not vote for student representatives. Instead, NIU should have a democratic oligarchy.

Currently, Student Association elections are a hybrid of a beauty pageant and a networking convention. Hang up a couple signs, create a Facebook page, make Greek friends and boom, they’re elected. Anyone can do that.

The hard part of being a student representative, as shown by current events, is doing the job. And it is not that those students are incompetent; there is no outlet for them to be competent. The SA can do its job with 16 officials and five justices.

I trust that if the SA was made to be a 400-level independent study course for public administration majors (prelaw for justices), my views pertaining to the operation and functioning of NIU would be represented.

It would be so much easier to check if a student representative took notes for a meeting; all you would have to do is check their grade, which I assume would be made available for transparency.

I know you are thinking, “How will those student representatives be held accountable to a student agenda?” Easy: by referendums. Instead of having students pointlessly go vote for a name they saw at the bus stop, have them vote on a number of initiatives.

For example, “Do you want NIU to implement a plus/minus grading system?” An official or two would gather the appropriate data, communicate with the Faculty Senate, inform the student body via the Northern Star and meetings, etc. Justices would insure that initiatives are constitutionally sound and the representatives are acting within their authority.

Next is the Senate’s power to allot money. A much more equitable way for the SA to distribute funds is for each student organization to submit a budget each semester for the following semester. The SA should only subsidize student organization cost for major functions that benefit the NIU community.

For example, each semester the American Red Cross organization holds a “First Aid Day” where they teach students first aid. The SA should allot them money for that, but not a trip to an ARC convention. Part of the proposed student representative’s grade would be to balance the budget.

The last real power of a SA Senator is the power to confirm a student organization. Under my proposal, student organizations would be confirmed by the Supreme Court and confirmation should be given under constitutional definitions.

I know there will undoubtedly be a letter from some SA member saying that all I have said here is nonsense, but I also know there are Senators that feel the same way.

As a student, it may be hard to say goodbye to your elected officials, but when was the last time you talked with them anyhow?

Our current system of student government is riddled with patronage, diffusion of responsibility and disinterest.

If you have a better idea to increase accountability, transparency and efficiency, I would love to hear about it.