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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Narrow Votes and Close Elections

    Dear Editor,

    As always, I write on what has happened during the most recent USG Senate meeting, in this case, the November 7, 2006 session.

    The Senate welcomed four additional members during this meeting, who join the Senate ranks following their victory in the recent USG fall elections. It is entirely too early to judge their impact, both in terms of the what issues they will vote for and what new ideas they can bring to the table, but I am optimistic that these Senators will take the opportunity to get involved fairly quickly, and I hope that I will be able to report to the student body on their future achievements.

    In terms of the bills and motions debated in the Senate, there is little encouraging news to report. The Senate spent a great deal of time considering revised constitutional amendments to put forward for consideration in a ‘Special Election,’ and while many Senators agreed that the proposed changes would deal with important USG issues, others were unhappy with the timing of the vote, arguing that the amendments would be voted upon by a small minority of students, arguably even fewer than the 6% or so who voted in the fall election. After much confusing rancor, the amendments were placed on the ballot, but the Executive Council may yet act to block them from consideration.

    Speaking of elections, the Senate’s Elections Committee issued a report regarding the recent elections; the major conclusion reached was that the greater number of candidates, the more students voted in the ballot. While this is a valid point, based on election data for the past three years, I was disappointed that the committee did not have any real ideas on how to increase turn out in the future.

    For instance, the committee did not follow up its conclusion on the impact of more candidates with any strategies on attracting more candidates for elections. Arguably, the greatest issue revealed by the most recent elections is the apathy of students when it comes to their student government, a problem that this government must address seriously if it is to have any legitimacy or influence.

    Equally troubling is the Senate’s failure to address the narrow rejection of the proposed decrease to the student activity fee. Instead of spending much of the meeting in confused debate, the Senate should take this opportunity to use surplus funds to fund programs and allocations in the best interest of the student body. If the USG Senate continues to be obstinate in using these funds to the benefit of the student body, then pressure must be exerted in order to demand this take place.

    I don’t know the opinion of every student, but this correspondent believes that it is best to use every penny of our student activity fee in order to fund clubs, events, giveaways, and programs that can benefit students, including getting the money and the organization together for a series of strikes against the campus dining services to demand lower food prices.

    Doing anything with this money would be preferable to keeping it in the bank, never to be used for this year’s students, the ones who paid the student activity fee, and I believe that we could spend this money responsibly and make a real impact if we demand that our Senators take their responsibilities seriously and work for benefit!

    Sincerely yours,

    Esam Al-Shareffi

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