Re: “Editorial: Need for SRA reform persists” by Sam Colbert [Published March 7, 2013 in Opinions]
By David Moore, MSU Alumni Association President
In “Time for reform,” The Silhouette argues the Student Representative Assembly is broken and prescribes ways to fix it.
Is the SRA perfect? No, but a closer look of The Silhouette’s arguments is in order.
The editorial suggests the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Democratic Reform concludes the committee “accomplished next to nothing.” The report I read noted challenges faced and several substantive issues which the committee discussed at length. To dismiss work undertaken during 15 meetings over six months is neither accurate nor fair.
The editorial also says the Committee discussed “…inviting the part-time managers of MSU services to be members of the Assembly.” No, the Committee discussed eliminating a rule that prohibits them from serving as voting members of the SRA. PTMs already have observer status giving them speaking rights so their voices may be heard at the SRA.
Regarding equitable representation, detailed reports scoped out the issues and offered options to inform the debate in which the SRA (for better or worse) made a conscious decision to retain the status quo.
The Silhouette argues that the SRA needs to be bigger because the student body has grown. Web sites, email and social media are among the tools to inform students – and receiving their input – that didn’t exist when the Assembly’s size was set. A larger SRA is no guarantee individual members would be any better and significant expansion would make for a less effective group dynamic.
The editorial further calls for other elected student leaders on campus to be made members of the SRA. In fact, academic society presidents and others have observer status at the Assembly so their voices can be heard.
Are observers less effective than voting members? No, not when decisions are guided by the strength of arguments.
The editorial also contends interest in running for seats is low. Five seats were elected by acclamation, but that’s down from ten last year and the number of candidates in 2013 was the highest since 1994.
The SRA will always have room for improvement, but the facts should be accurately and fairly presented to buttress calls for such improvement.