Following efforts to impeach Student Body President Connor Clegg on the grounds he no longer represents the university or the student body, the conversation about the ideal role of Student Government must be revisited.
According to the Student Government code of ethics, members of Student Government are expected to, “oppose all forms of discrimination and harassment” and, “be respectful and exemplify the principles of servant leadership.” Additionally, the Student Government Constitution charges its members with “representing the student interests and concerns to the administration, and providing those activities and services it deems useful to students.”
Additionally, one of the most important roles of Student Government is to avoid partisan politics while governing and representing the university. The Student Government code has clear restrictions on partisan politics among officials. However, whether or not this restriction translates from paper to practice, remains to be seen.
We see a permission of partisan politics in a failed attempt to bring an immigration attorney to campus, which was defeated by a single vote last year. In an ideal Student Government, the decision would be decided on the basis of doing the most good for Bobcats. However, Clegg refused to present the legislation to the administration because he did not believe it would pass. This is cause for suspicion given Clegg’s nomination to the office by College Republicans and the party’s stance on immigration, according to the College Republican’s Facebook page. Would a true non-partisan Student Government official withhold certain pieces of legislation, especially highly controversial bills, from the same treatment expected for all legislation?
This vote was decided under Clegg’s administration. The president cannot be, and should not be, held accountable for the actions and faults of every elected official. When Student Government is charged with representing all Bobcats, this means all Bobcats. Every student deserves to feel safe, have the resources to succeed and feel that their voice matters. If Student Government cannot make this mission their priority, they must be replaced.
The existence of partisanship tendencies in Student Government is not only unethical; it’s not logical. Institutional partisanship exists as a means to assign resources to an individual or group over other individuals and groups. It’s a necessary evil in local, state and federal governments, but at the university level, it does not serve a purpose. Students already receive their resources through the university, funded by their tuition, state funding and private donors. Partisanship at this level will only infringe upon every student receiving the tools to succeed, which should never be the goal of a governing body claiming to represent the student population.
With election season upon us again, candidates running for office should take care to reaffirm their commitment to the student body and uphold the promise of representing the entire student body in every capacity of their office.