A clear transparency problem: The trouble with the Student Assembly

With the Student Assembly elections coming up, I urge all current members and hopeful candidates to work on proactive measures for a more transparent SA.

To all readers: When was the last time you heard about what your Senator was doing other than from student media? I am excited to see during the election what the SA can truly do to become more transparent. Student publications can only do so much when it comes to keeping the student body informed about the SA; ultimately, the SA as a whole will be responsible for directly reaching out to the student body.

In spite of the SA Senate’s “What Can the SA Do for You” and “What Else Can the SA Do for You” campaigns, transparency has not improved noticeably. Tabling was both a weak and detached way to approach this issue. Even the SA website is not updated. You can’t make any issue matter without strong, proactive action.

The SA is a huge organization — but many don’t know this. It’s comprised of an Executive Council, senate and Undergraduate Council with eight departments: Departments of Public Affairs, Finance, Health and Safety, College Policy, Diversity Initiatives, Student Outreach, Student Rights and Student Life. I’d be willing to bet that many students on campus had no idea that these exist.

To potential candidates and those currently in office: Make yourselves accessible to your peers. Every day, I see many students walking down Ukrop Way proudly wearing our green and gold; there should be no reason you can’t connect with us. Hold forums in your halls, or with other dorms to keep yourselves posted with the needs of the student body. Get a Twitter account and tweet legislation you passed in session. You should not think of yourselves as above anyone else due to your title as Senator or Class President. You should not allow yourselves to become so absorbed by your individual position that you lose sight of the greater community. It would do well to remember that the SA is here to serve the student body, and not itself.

Last semester, my freshmen seminar professor repeated a mantra that all should heed: the idea of constant development. I truly believe that the SA can and will continue to develop to meet the needs of our community. Meanwhile, I encourage the next SA to shed its reputation of inaccessibility and become more transparent. If you can do this, you will have my vote.

Email Benming Zhang at bzhang01@email.wm.edu.



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