October 17, 2018

Editorial: DA voting system doesn’t represent student body

On Feb. 7, student leaders convened in the University Center and chose five topics to be presented to the administration during this semester’s Delegates’ Agenda. The Journal has expressed dissatisfaction with topics that have been chosen in the past. We now question whether the current voting system needs evaluating, in the hopes that it can better represent the needs of the overall student body.

Before the Delegates’ Agenda is planned each semester, a poll is distributed using email and social media. This poll contains an array of complaints commonly made by Webster students. In the poll, students are allowed to select a handful of topics that they would like to see brought to the administration’s attention.

The five topics are chosen at the Officers’ Summit, an event held once a semester to offer guidance to campus leaders and student organization officers. The discussion is facilitated; poll results are presented and students deliberate about potential issues. They are also encouraged to bring up new topics on which the larger student body did not vote.

The Journal has noticed for the past few semesters that the topics most commonly voted upon in the poll tend to be overlooked. We think this is a problem if the Delegates’ Agenda hopes to represent the needs of Webster students who do not attend the Officers’ Summit.

While the students who attend the setting are encouraged to vote according to the demand of the larger student population, there is no real incentive for them to do so. Attendees are free to vote on issues to which they have the strongest personal inclination. The poll itself has no quantifiable impact on which topics are selected.

The Journal understands that the goal of the discussion is to select topics that will be somewhat novel to the administration, concerning issues that are not already being addressed. The poll rarely reflects this, and so student leaders are recruited in the hopes that they will make wise choices in their votes.

But we repeatedly see subjects – such as course offerings and scholarships for graduate students – ignored in the interest of subjects brought up at the Officers Summit. Last semester, SGA members suggested implementing a program called TurboVote. This topic was never presented to the student body before it was selected as part of the Agenda, and in the end it was turned down by the administration.

The Journal would like to see a broader demographic of students shaping what’s presented at the Delegates’ Agenda. To better represent student concerns, we propose that the final selection of topics comes from an online vote that takes place after the Officers’ Summit.

Because we only get two chances a year to present our concerns to the administration, the setting of the Delegates’ Agenda is a precious opportunity to choose the correct concerns. The Journal suggests that those who facilitate the setting of the Delegates’ Agenda rethink the current process and seriously consider whether recent topics have spoken well of the voting system.

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