The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Staff Editorial

In an uncharacteristic move of this year’s Joint Board, the vote to add another senator to the OCCO/OCNCO cluster failed in this past week’s Joint Board. We at the S&B support the move to add another senator to this cluster, due in large part to the number of students per capita assigned to an OCCO/OCNCO senator.

If anything, off-campus senators have a heavier workload than on-campus senators. Not only do off-campus students live all over Grinnell, but also abroad, as students taking a semester abroad fall under the off-campus cluster. The task of organizing dozens of students who live within a few hundred feet of each other and their senators is difficult enough—imagine that except the students live all over the town and dozens of countries outside the U.S. Why current off-campus senators should be required to represent more students with a wider area of residence makes no sense. If anything, with an additional senator, that senator could focus their duties on keeping students living abroad informed and involved.

Furthermore, there is essentially no drawback to adding another senator to the off-campus pool. As an unpaid position, the only overhead cost of a fourth senator would be a few cents extra for whatever meals, snacks, etc. are provided for Joint Board. And maybe the labor required to pull up an extra chair at Joint Board sessions. Regardless, there are essentially no drawbacks. It seems the only drawback in some senator’s minds might be the dilution of current voices in a meeting with one extra person. But isn’t that extra senator just a reflection of the democratic principles of SGA?

In short, it doesn’t make sense to have fewer senators representing off-campus, per capita, than anywhere else on campus—at least one senator should be added to the off-campus representation to balance out Joint Board and senatorial duties. Unfortunately, since this decision has been thrown back to the committee, will not be resolved this semester, and cannot be brought back to the table until after senator elections have happened next fall, any modification will likely not take effect until Spring semester 2011. But that’s no reason to avoid the issues. Heed our call, Joint Board, and do the right thing.

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