The Ills of Democracy: The SSC Experience
Beyond reasonable doubt, our Supreme Student Council has been on the receiving end of brutal criticism; criticisms such as questionable objectives, lapses in information dissemination, poor campus presence and rampant party politics. All of this has lead to the general impression that the current system is no longer representative; rather it is irresponsive to the student, to the student body. Furthermore it has become inefficient in carrying out its duty as the defender and promoter of student welfare.
While these criticisms may be well written and even quite convincing, one can see that they lack depth and beneath the surface, appeal more to emotions than logic – basing on assumptions rather than truth and declaring from up high, but with weak grounding. Concise as they seem to be, these postulations fail to answer a fundamental question: “What then? What do you suggest we do about it?”
But first in order to attempt a cure of this disease we must first dissect it.
In its most neutral terms, politics is a process of interchange between people within a system. Explicitly, political partisanship runs rampant in our student government. Activities initiated by the SSC are tagged and credited to Party A or Party B. Come elections, activities done as a whole are claimed by contending parties to give the impression that their party is the vanguard of the student interest. Shrewdly enough this way has produced outcomes. And it is these outcomes that the majority of students are concerned with.
Democracy in this case is now skewed. What was to be a system modeled after a republican form of government, where the principles of representation and renovation are enshrined – representation, being that the government is chosen by the electorate and renovation, where the elected officials are replaced.
The task now of representing the interest of the student electorate has been shouldered by the political parties, and though it must be acknowledged that the ultimate aim of every political party is to promote the welfare of the student body based on their own notions of “student welfare”, the value system of the student body is different – candidate comes above platform, popularity above welfare. This welfare has been jeopardized with popularity. The election of the SSC can be equated thus as the showcase of candidates with Congeniality. The efficiency of the student government in their representing the interest of the students has been placed in the hands of the wanton, capricious whims of a politically immature electorate. However despite these deficiencies, the SSC strives to stand against the endless bouts of criticism and take these as reasons to be more resilient in their pursuits. This is a government which chooses to work behind the curtain to be more effective rather than working in the limelight to further gain popularity and votes for the next elections to benefit their party. Overall the system is flawed; but despite these flaws continuing to persevere, can we really leave it at that? Is there no real alternative to this situation?
Let us post an alternative then: What if we reform the supreme student government– a reform in representation, if you will? The current SSC is composed of one president, one vice president, and twenty-one councilors elected at large. This commentary sees that this current system is inherently unrepresentative as the electorate has the tendency to vote for the most popular and appealing candidate rather than the platform that the candidate bears. This commentary asserts that councilors that are elected at large be replaced with elected representatives from each department – a student parliament if you will, where each of the elected represent the interests of their colleges and departments. This would make for a more decentralized distribution of duties, where the needs of all colleges and departments are brought to equal emphasis.
Perhaps, there are a lot of aspects that need be considered in order to determine the efficacy of an organization. Mishaps may come from systematic errors or faults from the people running the system itself. In the case of SSC, this commentary sees that it is due time that the student government design its programs in line with the immediate needs of the students. It is also proper for the student body to not limit itself as the recipient of the projects of the SSC and must instead expand its role in the formation of policy through active participation. These being stated, a way in which this issue can be addressed is through a reform in representation in the Council.