If Donald Trump was CEO of UM SG Senate, Inc. his message to most of the employees would probably be, “You’re fired!” Too bad he isn’t; he and I would have a good deal of agreement on that issue. As it stands, the Student Government Senate is a monument of bureaucracy and inefficiency. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great senators doing constructive things, but the simple truth is the number of seats and where they are coming from is hampering their overall efficiency and effectiveness.
Currently there are Senators representing nearly every school, residential college and major student organization on campus. Everyone who has a unique demographic, no matter how obscure, thinks they are entitled to a Senate seat. Please tell me why it’s so imperative that the Sports & Recreational Interest Club Federation has its own senate seat?
A lot of the “unique demographic” constituencies are double represented. FEC and SpectrUM each have their own Senate seat. Am I to believe that no Cubans live in Hecht Residential College? There must be a few GBLT students in the School of Business. Why isn’t it good enough that those students be represented by the Senators elected from the more broad constituencies?
With unpaid SG positions like Senate, many people have a natural tendency towards “more is better.” What they are failing to realize is that the opposite is true-less is more.
The most obvious and problematic issue with the Senate is that the supply is near-even with the demand. Because there are so many seats a student can run for, the number of people choosing to run gets so spread out that often times seats go uncontested or with little opposition. This allows for dead weight and underachieving senators to slip through the cracks. If you had fewer seats available, there would be much greater competition for each seat. Greater competition would lead to higher accountability for existing Senators, and you would quickly see the fat being trimmed out of the Senate and a higher level of productivity from the remaining Senators. The miscellaneous groups left out in the dust could turn themselves to a more appropriate and efficient role in the Student Government process-effective lobbying for their causes.
In the case of the SG Senate, the old criticism the Japanese levy against American business applies: “Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.”
Don Donelson can be contacted at email@example.com.