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Leadership Under Fire

February 3rd, 2007

Big news coming out of the ASUW Student Senate these past weeks, resulting in numerous phone calls from people I haven’t heard from in some time. It was nice to talk to people, it wasn’t so nice to hear about the destructive path the ASUW seems to be on this year. I’ll withhold my commentary on some of these topics until after this Tuesday’s vote, but I did want to share some initial thoughts on a Daily article run this Friday.

Seems the UW Libertarian’s have decided to pull out of Senate after a vote to extend the conduct code off campus. I happen to agree with the Libertarian’s stance on this issue, although not to the extent of leaving the Senate. But in leaving the organization they chose to not just attack the vote, but the Senate itself. The Daily has the store with quotes. The following is a comment I posted to the story.

The Libertarians ought to look back into the ASUW history before it demands “a more democratic and less bureaucratic system.” Before the rise of the Senate, the only body capable of making decisions like these was the Board of Directors, a group of students chosen in a single election dominated by popularity contests, an annual battle between the students from greek row, the residence halls, and the ECC. Once elected the students sat in their offices, indifferent to student groups or interests not aligned with their own.

The changes to the Senate over the past five years have strengthened the institution, creating a more democratic forum. One not determined by a single high stakes election, rather, based on organizations of students who take the time to represent their individual and diverse constituencies.

As for bureaucracy… I suggest we consider the alternative. Bureaucracy is how we make things fair. Rules and regulations design to keep power in check. It is these rules that now have the Chair and Vice Chair under a microscope, and it is these rules which shows how the Libertarian Senator had abandoned his responsibilities through poor attendance. The alternative, a Senate without rules, would produce yet another unaccountable political body… and the ASUW already has one of those.

Leaving the Senate is a powerful message, and I certainly understand the Libertarians’ decision to do so based on the Student Conduct Code vote… but taking a sideswipe at the institution itself, just because you lost a political fight, is like burning down the restaurant because you didn’t like the food.

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