Student Fed­er­ation | Col­legian

The amendment on the ballot this week will do harm to Hillsdale’s Student Fed­er­ation and the student body. This amendment would loosen qual­i­fi­ca­tions for Fed­er­ation officers to dis­courage uncon­tested elec­tions. It’s original intention to modify election require­ments was noble; the product that the student body is now voting on is a franken­stein. The student body should vote “no” on this amendment.

During the final debate on the amendment, a clause was added to loosen the eli­gi­bility require­ments for Fed­er­ation officers, so that can­di­dates need only have com­pleted a semester on the Fed­er­ation before taking office (rather than before running for office). While short, this rushed addition has tremendous impli­ca­tions.

Both the current and imme­diate past Fed­er­ation trea­surers oppose this amendment, as do all of the current members of the Fed­er­ation Rules Com­mittee who were specif­i­cally tasked to study the issue. In fact, the com­mittee expressly rejected the clause, but the pro­posal was amended on the floor against their wishes to include this phrasing.

It is bad enough that the amendment is an incom­pre­hen­sible mon­strosity with con­tra­dictory def­i­n­i­tions. Before you vote on the amendment, ask to view a copy of the text and remember that future Fed­er­a­tions will have to reread this every year. There is a better way to solve this problem and it starts with a “no” vote on the current text.

More dan­gerous than the legalese, however, is that there will be inex­pe­ri­enced and ignorant stu­dents running for officer posi­tions. Instead of closing a loophole in the current Con­sti­tution, the amendment will make this loophole the rule rather than the exception.

Under the current system, officers will have served a com­plete semester before their can­didacy, resulting in a full year of expe­rience. This means they will have expe­ri­enced the entire budget process and heard numerous funding requests and new club pro­posals.

Worst of all, this amendment would allow someone to run for trea­surer who has never seen or worked with a Fed­er­ation budget.Allowing someone who joined in the fall semester to run for trea­surer will place someone in control of more than $100,000 of student fees who might not even know how that money is allo­cated. The budget process requires great sub­tlety and tact, and a trea­surer should, at the very least, have been on the Fed­er­ation to have seen and voted on the pre­vious budget.

In addition, allowing stu­dents with only one semester of expe­rience to run for office will endanger the insti­tu­tional memory of the Fed­er­ation, which is already sparse from its high turnover. When College Repub­licans requests thou­sands of dollars to go to the Con­ser­v­ative Political Action Con­ference, shouldn’t the trea­surer at least know what promises the club made the last time they came?  

The foun­dation of the entire “yes” argument is fal­la­cious. Even though there is a loophole whereby a member can leave the Fed­er­ation and be nom­i­nated for office in absentia, this almost never happens. Even this year, probably the first-ever use of this loophole, the can­didate took advantage of unusual cir­cum­stances that let him run for office without being nom­i­nated at a meeting. Using this as the basis for so-called fairness is foolish — it will likely never happen again.

Some have argued that opposing this amendment is anti-Greek, thereby implying that the status quo is somehow anti-Greek. Since two current officers and two of next year’s officers are Greek, and Student Fed­er­ation has had at least one Greek officer at all times since at least 2011, crying dis­crim­i­nation is ridiculous. Resorting to the tired argu­ments of “anti-Greek” bias is a dis­traction from the real problems in the amendment.

Finally, voting “no” on the amendment will not leave us with this problem for years to come. Amend­ments may be pro­posed and voted on by the student body at any time of the year. The Fed­er­ation can address this issue again this spring and still be on schedule to have the issue resolved before the next cycle of elec­tions in the fall with time to spare.

This amendment has some advan­tages, but loos­ening eli­gi­bility require­ments is irre­spon­sible. Though dili­gence and com­pe­tence sup­plement expe­rience, they cannot replace it. The student body deserves a concise, con­sidered, and prudent answer to who is eli­gible for the highest offices on campus. This is not it.

Thomas Ryskamp is a senior studying Music and Accounting and is the sec­retary of Hillsdale’s Student Fed­er­ation.