The Cavalier Daily
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Vote for change

Voting is a necessary component of student self-governance

University-wide spring elections will end at six p.m. Sunday. If you have not already done so, now is the time to vote. Student Council, class councils, the Honor Committee, and the University Judiciary Committee may seem removed from the day to day life of students, but this will not change by ignoring the election of their leaders. A lot of ink has been spilt arguing about how Student Council or the Honor Committee should act, from letters to the editor to guest columns to editorials. As students, we get one chance a year to completely overhaul the bodies of student self-governance. Last year only 22 percent of the student body took that opportunity. This year it needs to be more. Student Council and the Honor Committee have shown their faults in the past year, and this is the chance for students to declare that things need to change.

This past year, Student Council began a University Unity Project that has done little to bring the University community together. Though there is still hope for this project, it needs attention and restructuring before it can accomplish anything significant. Council has 11 different standing committees, many of which share common goals with other, independent groups at the University. The Environmental Sustainability, Diversity Initiatives, and Student Arts Committees are all committees that have counterparts outside of Council. Instead of getting bogged down by attempting a huge quantity of initiatives each year, Council would better serve students by having representatives of these organizations work with Council for funding and support. Council has become so extensive it no longer functions effectively and at any one time a student would be hard pressed to describe what Council is doing for him. At such a large university, Council should take on over-arching umbrella projects that still have tangible benefits for the majority of students, instead of trying to address every single concern that arises.

The Honor Committee has problems of its own: it has done very little in the past year to address student concerns about procedures and transparency. The Honor Committee too often uses FERPA as its reason for the excessive secrecy that accompanies honor investigations, yet has never asked students if they want their identities revealed. It is understandable that a student accused of an honor offense might want his identity kept secret, but if he does not, there is no reason that student cannot waive his FERPA rights. Under those circumstances the Honor Committee would be free to discuss more specific details of the case. It would only take a few cases like this, with students willing to have their experience heard in the court of public opinion, for the student body to determine if the Honor Committee is functioning as it should.

There are students on the ballot who have a desire to change these organizations. But the majority of students who vote are likely also involved in these same organizations and the voice of change often can be hard to hear. It is therefore imperative that all students vote. In the practice of student self-governance, you must vote for change.


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