So You're An ASCMC Senator?

"So you’re an ASCMC Senator?” The Deloitte hiring manager peers over his glasses, putting your resume back on his desk and leaning back in his chair. “That’s seriously impressive—demonstrates a lot of responsibility and vision. You know what, you’re hired. You start at $90,000 a year plus bonuses. Good luck with that senior thesis, we’ll see you the day after graduation.”

Such a scenario only exists in the dreams of starry-eyed freshmen crowding into their first Senate meeting. Judging by the piles of unused name placards building up from week to week, those dreams were shattered by some realization—perhaps that dozens, if not hundreds, of CMCers participate in ASCMC.

Whether senators stop showing up because they’re disillusioned with the process, their friends stop going, they get bored, their homework starts building up, or they just forget, they retain their title and voting rights for the rest of the year. The standing policy of swearing in everyone who shows up to the first meeting cheapens the efforts of the senators who stay involved.

As you might imagine from a college so enamored with government, ASCMC Senate is modeled on the United States Senate, with two senators elected to represent each dorm each semester. However, an additional subsection of the constitution (written in a suspiciously different font than the rest of the constitution but never mentioned as an amendment) allows for the automatic election of those who show up at the first meeting or three consecutive meetings thereafter.

To my knowledge, no senators this semester were elected by their dorm—they simply showed up. None of the dorms I’ve lived in even held elections for Senate. Yet formal voting procedure in Senate still involves voting by dorm, requiring a majority of dorms to pass a resolution.

More relevant to the hundred or so absentee senators, however, is the constitutional stipulation that absence for three consecutive meetings is grounds for expulsion from Senate. I certainly failed to meet that criterion as a freshman, and I have no doubt that a fair number of current senators have already done so, as well. But a disproportionate number of CMCers claim stake to decisions made in Senate, showing years of experience in student government by the time they graduate.

I’d name specific senators if I could, but given that they don’t show up for Senate, I don’t actually know who they are.

Just to be clear, the last thing I want is to stop people from participating in student government. However, “participation” is a tricky subject. Showing up twice isn’t participation. ASCMC's current lack of rule enforcement allows enterprising young senators to show up only to vote for friends' funding requests and put their positions on a resume. Perhaps requiring all senators to sit on a committee (and enforcing Senate rules regarding absence for those meetings, as well) would prompt an investment of time and effort from some of our absentee senators.

Until some revision of Senate rules occurs, however, the attendance rolls at Bauer Forum will still list a glut of excited freshmen at the first meeting of each year, unaware that a job mostly devoted to hearing funding requests won’t merit a second glance from anyone reading a resume. If you want to get involved, Senate is a great way to do it, but Senate only works if its members are willing to devote time and energy to their school and fellow students throughout the year. Show up to meetings, sit on committees, share your opinions, and make a meaningful contribution to the school, but be wary of taking credit for the work of those who already do.