Ranking bills, not senators

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October 21, 2008

12:30 AM

You’ll notice our latest senate report card looks a little different. Two years and two editorial staffs ago, we decided to rate Student Assembly senators on their effectiveness. At the time, many senators were drafting bills with little or no relevance to the student body, sometimes failing to follow through on the bills that did pass. Some senators missed multiple meetings during the semester.

The first report card exposed those practices to students and ranked senators based on their contributions to student welfare. Since that time, the senate has transformed into a more effective and useful bunch.

We’ve made some changes, too. This time, we’ve dropped the rankings in favor of what we believe is a more equitable approach. Attendance and the passage and execution of bills are the senators’ quantifiable responsibilities. But they’re the only ones we can quantify. While senators like Sarah Rojas ’10 have made enormous contributions to voter registration, those efforts would never make it onto the report card.

Not all bills are created equal, either. The Steer Clear Funding Act, sponsored by Sens. Ross Gillingham ’10 and Rojas, arguably does more for students than does the relatively intangible Amethyst Act. Legislation with distinct, manageable goals and clear plans for implementation allows students to hold their elected representatives accountable. Vague bills funnel responsibility away from their authors.

But, of course, those values don’t easily survive the jump to our report cards — at least not with the sort of clarity we’d like. In fairness, then, we’ve refrained from ranking the senators this year. We trust you can use the information to judge them for yourselves.

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