Councils seen as redundant

To the Editor:

As was reported recently in The Poly, a motion to dissolve the Independent Council has been introduced in the Student Senate. As the Independent Council Senator and writer of this bill, I feel that it is necessary to offer some perspective on the purpose behind this proposal. Before doing so, I wish to point out that this proposal will be debated to some extent in the Senate before being voted upon. Hopefully, the various views and concerns on it will be heard at that time. If it gains the Senate’s approval, it will stand for referendum during GM Week elections, at which time you will have the opportunity to vote upon it.

That said, my main reasoning for this motion is twofold. First, student government suffers woefully from a lack of involvement. As can be seen by the articles and letters of GMs, PUs, and other officials in the past, attempts are constantly underway to find students who wish to be involved in the decision-making process. Unfortunately, these constant pleas for help reflect the need for student involvement, with many seats vacant and whole bodies ailing. I believe that this issue is caused in part by the immense number of student government bodies and the subsequent spread of manpower. I propose that bodies which do not serve the needs of the students well because of perennial failure in direction and motivation be terminated. To this end, I have proposed the dissolution of the Independent Council and the Undergraduate Council. It is my hope that, in the future, interested students will be able to coordinate more closely to accomplish more tasks through fewer small, disparate bodies. In the parlance of The Rensselaer Plan, it is my hope that we can consolidate our resources to reach “critical mass” in areas of student representation.

A reason why I believe that the IC is particularly necessary for removal is its consistent lack of purpose. Ostensibly, it is the purpose of the Council to “provide a means of furthering the social and extracurricular life of independents; to act as a medium for the expression of independent opinion; to promote the best interests of both independents and Rensselaer in general, and to foster loyalty toward the Rensselaer community.” (Constitution of the Independent Council; Article I, Section B) I assert that none of these purposes is unique to the Council. Rather, they are all redundant with the roles of other groups such as the Student Senate and our clubs. Furthermore, the Council has long fallen short in fulfilling these duties, frequently lapsing into dormancy and occasionally making feeble returns to operation. But even in its current state, the body only runs a course survey, a task which could be taken up by the Student Senate Academic Affairs Committee with great ease. Because of this continual lack of functionality or apparent purpose, the Council has demonstrated its ineffectuality.

I hope that this helps to clarify the proposal. It is possible that this issue will come before each and every voter in the student body, and so I offer these arguments in its support. If any reader has questions, concerns, or thoughts on this proposal, feel free to contact me at bobrow@rpi.edu.

William E. Bobrowski

PHYS ’02