Candidates run for election and away from democracy

Three students are running unopposed for positions on the Executive Board of the Student Senate, leaving four other positions that will not be filled.

Efforts to fill the seats on the Executive Board have been a continuous struggle throughout the year, which Student Senators and Executive Board members blame on a by-law that required students be a voting member of the Student Senate for at least one semester. The Student Senate voted to strike this by-law in a 19-5 vote with 3 abstaining on March 22.

According to Charles Karter, director of Health and Sustainability, who is now running for President, filling the eventual empty seats might be done by having an election, as opposed to the placement of Vice President Dallas Rising through an appointment strictly from the Student Senate, and not a vote from the student body as a whole on February 22.

“Well now that we got rid of that by-law, which eliminates the barring of outside entities from running, maybe we should run an election? But I want to get the general assembly’s opinion on that,” said Karter.

Karter cast doubt on whether striking the bylaw was beneficial to the Student Senate saying,

“If we open it up to everybody will we get enough people competing and running that will make it competitive to get us quality people bringing in? Or will it result in people who don’t seem to be taking it too seriously and then you have toxic members on the board,” said karter.

The past two years has seen multiple motions to remove Executive Board members, none of them successful, starting with two motions to impeach then Vice President Corinne Salone during the 2015-2016 school year and most recently a motion for the impeachment of President Joe Amrhein brought by all members of the Executive Board with one member abstaining.

Amrhein ouster was blocked in a 35-35 vote by the Student Senate.

These attempted political coups and elections of students to important positions without the input of the student body as a whole throws into doubt whether the Student Senate is truly a democratic body that represents MCTC.

Even the democratically sounding Student Senate requires no vote by the student body it represents, instead relying on the following requirements:

  • Must be enrolled in 6 credits at MCTC
  • Have a 2.5 GPA
  • Attend 2 senate meetings
  • Be ratified by the Student Senate body

The last requirement allows the Student Senate to bar anyone it chooses while also ensuring undemocratically elected members are able to make decisions for the student body as a whole.

This facade of democracy was highlighted by Karter who said “Democracy would be the thing I like but a quality [Executive] Board is pertinent,” in response to how he would personally like to see those empty Executive Board positions filled.

Miki Huntington, who teaches political science at MCTC but is not involved in student government, said in response to being asked about the continuing turmoil within the Executive Board and the General Assembly

“If you have an Executive Board that has the power through [a] governing document to nominate somebody else to fill a vacant slot or whatever then I guess that the begs the question of if the people that are involved in it are the very people who get to change or amend the governing document itself, how democratic is it?”

When asked about running unopposed and how to fill those same empty Executive Board positions Robel Tedoros, who is running for Director of Student Affairs and Legislative policies admitted that,

“…we could have definitely done a better job at getting the word out and helping more students to be more informed.”

Ivonne Hernandez, who is running unopposed for the Director of Diversity position, also shares Tedoros’s and Karter’s hope that once they are elected, the Executive Board will become a body that doesn’t have members appointed by default. In an email questioning how she will ensure more students get involved in Student Senate, she said,

” My hope is that the new by-law that was passed on March 22nd will make a difference, in terms of to who might be able to run for a position…A few things I am thinking about are tabling, creating videos to show our clubs and organizations, also having students volunteer some hours to set up a night for talking about financial support, or new laws that affect us, and if it’s possible I would also like the idea of setting a date and time to have students come in and eat and just chat about what are some diversity issues that they would like for our community to improve on.”

Student Advisor for the student government Shannon Williams did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

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