Editorial Notebook

Pushing for transparency for student government

Throughout my time on the Student Senate, I have heard students make the valid complaint of a lack of transparency within student government at RPI. The issue of transparency has served as a hallmark issue of campaign platforms and debate questions, and it continues to be one of the first issues students raise with our current student government.

I have faith that our Grand Marshal and President of the Union, Paul Ilori ’17 and Chip Kirchner ’17, will lead their respective bodies with a demonstrated example of transparency and communication, and I feel it is only fitting to do my part as well.

As a publicly-elected official, I believe it is my duty to ensure my constituents have sufficient access to the actions I take while representing them. As such, I have established a voting record webpage that will detail every substantial vote I participate in during the 47th Senate. Feeding from a Google Spreadsheet, the page is searchable and, when clicking on a vote, provides details about the vote’s specifics.

The Senate already has mechanisms in place for voting transparency. The Bylaws of the Student Senate detail procedures for roll call voting, which results in a table of members and their votes on the motion being added to the minutes. Also, RPI TV often films Senate meetings, where votes by show of hands can be watched. However, I believe the concept of a voluntary public voting record gives a great opportunity for senators, Executive Board representatives, and other members of student government bodies to do their part in improving transparency. Furthermore, because these records are voluntary, no amendments to the Senate Bylaws are needed.

My voting record can be found at http://poly.rpi.edu/s/senatorvoting/. For those who are not inclined to work with web development, Google Spreadsheets offers a way to create a published spreadsheet where the contents are visible to anyone with the link. Instructions on how to configure a published spreadsheet on Google Drive can be found at http://poly.rpi.edu/s/publishedguide/.

On a different note, with my term as managing editor of The Poly coming to a close with elections taking place this weekend, I want to thank my incredible Poly family for all of their hard work this semester. Running a paper, especially a self-funded one, is no small task, and I’m proud to have had the honor of serving with you all over the past year. But never fear—this isn’t farewell; expect to see me next semester copy reading, writing articles, laying out pages, and, of course, singing to the closing night playlist. Thank you for everything, The Poly, and here’s to the future.