Student Fed­er­ation | Col­legian

Hillsdale’s Student Fed­er­ation has pro­posed a new amendment to its Con­sti­tution. The amendment seeks to introduce fairer qual­i­fi­ca­tions for officer posi­tions and dis­courage uncon­tested elec­tions. I’d like to set the record straight by dis­pelling three myths being spread by its oppo­nents.

The first myth claims that the amendment com­pro­mises student fees by enabling someone who has never expe­ri­enced the spring budget process to run for Trea­surer. The Con­sti­tution already allows this sce­nario to take place. Can­di­dates for Trea­surer are required to have one com­plete semester of expe­rience on the Fed­er­ation, but there is no requirement that their expe­rience is in the spring semester. A student who serves in the fall and studies abroad or on WHIP the next semester is cur­rently per­mitted to run for Trea­surer the fol­lowing November, having never expe­ri­enced the budget process.

Does the amendment make this more likely? Perhaps slightly, but it is also important to keep in mind that to run, a student must first be nom­i­nated by another rep­re­sen­tative on the Fed­er­ation. If a can­didate is clearly under-qual­ified, it is unlikely that he or she will be nom­i­nated by a fellow rep­re­sen­tative. Even if a clearly under-qual­ified can­didate were nom­i­nated, his oppo­nents would have ample oppor­tunity to cam­paign against him. Still, this sce­nario is hardly unat­tractive — right now, next to no cam­paigning takes place. Stu­dents who are not per­sonally con­nected to can­di­dates have little moti­vation to vote.

The second myth is that the amendment allows stu­dents with far less expe­rience to run for officer posi­tions. Right now, stu­dents can run with one semester of expe­rience. This is not uncommon — one of the stu­dents running this week, in fact, has only served for one semester. The amendment would allow stu­dents who began serving at the beginning of this semester to run as well since they too will have served a com­plete semester by the time they take office. Since we only meet twice per month, the dif­ference in expe­rience between these two types of stu­dents at the time of the election boils down to one meeting. At the time of taking office, there is no dif­ference in the minimum expe­rience required. Fur­thermore, the amendment would require that a student who took office in the fall be held to a higher atten­dance standard if he or she wishes to run for office the fol­lowing year. Only one absence would be allowed. All other stu­dents are per­mitted three excused absences per term.

The third myth: Less expe­rience trans­lates to incom­pe­tence. Length of service on the Fed­er­ation is by no means the sole deter­miner of a candidate’s com­pe­tence for an officer position. Some of our hardest working and most ded­i­cated members are first-term rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Two of our members began chairing com­mittees the day they were sworn in, and both have done an excellent job. Younger members tend to be more moti­vated to prove them­selves, whereas some of the Federation’s least com­petent and laziest officers have been those in their third year of service.

The amendment is nec­essary because it accom­plishes two things. First, it allows sopho­mores with expe­rience on the Fed­er­ation to run for Pres­ident or Trea­surer if either of these posi­tions, which are nor­mally reserved for juniors, are uncon­tested. The current con­sti­tution only permits juniors to run for these two posi­tions. There are very few juniors on the Fed­er­ation, so this often results in uncon­tested elec­tions, which allow a junior to become Trea­surer or Pres­ident without winning the approval of the student body. This is unhealthy, and it has occurred two years in a row for the office of Student Body Pres­ident.

Second, the amendment permits rep­re­sen­ta­tives elected at the start of this semester to run for next year’s officer posi­tions since they will have a full semester of expe­rience by the time they take office. Right now, a rep­re­sen­tative who takes office at the start of the fall semester (which is rare but typ­i­cally occurs due to a Greek house’s unusual election cycle) cannot run that November for an officer position. This amendment would allow them to do so if a very high standard of par­tic­i­pation is met.

If you have not yet voted, I urge you to support the amendment. If it fails, we are stuck with the status quo until at least 2020.

Natalie Meckel is a senior studying Bio­chem­istry and the pres­ident of Hillsdale’s Student Fed­er­ation.