A call for transparency in the Student Assembly
Written by Flat Hat Editorial Board|
February 15, 2016
Despite a campaign filled with buzzwords like “transparency” and “continuity,” Student Assembly President Yohance Whitaker ’16 and the rest of the Student Assembly have failed to come through on a promise to put up a working website for the organization. The lack of a website has been a long-running issue for the SA. Virtually every election SA candidates cite the need for a lasting, consistently-updated website, but the organization’s years of effort have produced only “error” and “server not found” messages. Why does it matter? The SA isn’t the most visible group on campus, after all.However, that’s exactly the problem.
According to its placeholder site, the SA intends to “represent and advocate for the interests of the William & Mary student body.” How can it work as a representative and advocate for students of the College of William and Mary without a necessary medium of communication? The SA maintains an email account and a regularly updated Facebook page. But these options lack the breadth and depth of information a website could provide. Students should know what the governing body they elect does on a week-to-week basis. A website could be a vital tool for spreading knowledge and for interfacing with students. Websites are accessible and provide information in an organized, easy-to-use fashion. Right now, the SA is defined by how little students know about the purpose it serves or the actions it carries out.
If the SA truly cares about what it does, and considers its task essential to improving student life, it has to present itself in an open and accountable way.
Websites are relatively simple to make. Theoretically, the construction of a website for the SA could be completed in a matter of hours, not months. The current lack of a site, while not absolutely crucial in itself, is indicative of either apathy or disarray. It does not inspire confidence in the capacity of the SA to do meaningful and effective work on behalf of students. If the SA truly cares about what it does, and considers its task essential to improving student life, it has to present itself in an open and accountable way. This means taking campaign problems seriously and being forthright about its accomplishments. There have been SA websites before, but none have been maintained with any continuity. The SA needs a site that will stay up across years and changes in leadership.
Consistency is critical to building trust with the student body. It would be in the best interest of the organization to establish a point of reference and communication with the greater community. The SA has a stated purpose — student advocacy — and a system in place to address that purpose. It has the potential to become a powerful voice for the broad array of people that make up the College student body. But to realize its mission and to fulfill its indispensable role, the SA needs to take concrete steps towards greater transparency.
The staff editorial represents the opinion of The Flat Hat. The editorial board, which is elected by The Flat Hat’s section editors and executive staff, consists of Aine Cain, Isabel Larroca, Miguel Locsin, Quinn Monette, Emily Chaumont and Kayla Sharpe. The Flat Hat welcomes submissions to the Opinions section. Limit letters to 250 words and columns to 650 words. Letters, columns, graphics and cartoons reflect the view of the author only. Email submissions to [email protected].