Post Classifieds

Editorial misrepresents senate members

By John Hibbert
On September 22, 2004

09/22/04 - To The Cigar,On Sept. 17, your publication printed an editorial entitled "Student Senate not performing duty." This is a rebuttal of that article. The author of that article did not have his name listed in The Cigar. I am not aware if it was from an oversight or intentional anonymity. However, I direct this letter to whoever wrote that article.

I am not a senator, and my involvement with the senate is limited to being president of a senate-recognized Class 1 organization. One does not need to be a senator to understand the flaws in your argument.

Your first criticism of the senate is claiming that they should endeavor to get students to understand the senatorial process and help them become involved. This passivity only spawns "general bellyaching that the common student isn't more involved." This argument is self-stultifying. If the senate could be criticized for not making an effort to reach out, then the students could equally be held responsible for their not taking the initiative to inquire about the process themselves. You claim they are at fault because they haven't handed all the election-related information to you without effort on your part. It appears that you expect them to do all the work for you, a sentiment making you guilty of the charges of laziness and boredom that you accuse the senators of.

For some reason, you believe that some senators not adding to the discussion is a potential sign of rampant incompetence. This is not the case. Senate meetings are very long and very tiring. If every senator butted in with a minute of discussion of why they agreed with the person who already spoke, they wouldn't finish before the Memorial Union was closed at midnight. Also, if another senator already says what you believe or agree with, most people find it proper juristic etiquette to voice your agreement with your vote rather than a comment or applause.

You also have the audacity to criticize some senators for resigning their posts. Resignations are part of college life. Sometimes you take on too many responsibilities and realize you simply do not have time to accomplish all of them. This is the time of life when such mistakes are allowable; it's a natural learning period. Unless you are a freshman, I imagine that you've dropped a class because you were too busy or unable to fulfill the requirements, or had to change your schedule at work to accommodate your schoolwork. It is the same thing. If you haven't had to drop classes, or are a freshman, then why are you criticizing something you've only had two weeks exposure to?

Finally, you butchered a quote from [George Bernard] Shaw. Some people say that quotations are a matter of interpretation, but this is not one of those cases. Not only were you wrong about what Shaw said, you claimed the exact opposite of what he meant. Shaw said, "Democracy is the device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve." No one is impressed that you looked at a quote web site, blindly searching for names in your 11th grade civics notebook. The real meaning of that is to say that if the public does not make the effort to get involved and get interested, your representatives and rulers will take liberty to do things as they see fit. Shaw was predicting that if the number of voters and activists waned, the possibility of an unfit ruler would become greater. In other words, nothing is more important than your participation in the electoral process.

This letter sounds like it was written by a former organization leader who is upset that his meaningless event went unfounded. This sort of empty criticism does nothing but widen the alleged fissure between the electors and the elected, a fissure which wouldn't exist if the armchair politicians would stop "bellyaching" about things which they both do not understand and lack the energy to become educated about.

John Hibbert

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