We applaud the All-Campus Judicial Council (ACJC)’s ruling on Almast v. Students’ Association Senate, the first major appeal case in five years. The decision, released on Friday, Oct. 30, ended over a month of contention.
In the weeks leading up to the appeal hearing, Senate’s attempt to appoint a senator through a selection committee, the action that spurred sophomore Anmol Almast’s appeal, seemed a little murky. It seemed that one of the best answers to Senate’s dilemma was to offer the seat to Almast, the next-highest vote-getter in the spring election, who had lost her bid by just 10 votes.
The original decision to create a selection committee was, in some ways, an admirable choice. As we expressed in our Editorial Board in the April 2, 2015 Campus Times, we have been concerned with the system’s ability to guarantee equal representation across class years, and Senate sensed this very issue when establishing the committee—the lack of senior senators could be detrimental.
The spring elections, the first test of the new bylaws, showcased the danger in Senate’s decision during the creation of the new bylaws: eight of the 13 senators elected are currently sophomores, which presents a glaringly lopsided composition. The possibility of an outcome like this concerned us then, and it still concerns us now. Again, we understand the motives behind Senate’s revisions of the SA Bylaws. But, that doesn’t mean we supported the use of a committee to appoint a senator, regardless of whether it would have alleviated the imbalance.
The ability of people to elect their representatives is the cornerstone of our entire system of governance, both in SA and in this country. To deny the student body that ability, especially under such unclear circumstances, didn’t sit well with us. To us, this was a clear violation of the SA Constitution and the values on which it is built.
Again, we think Senate tried to do what it felt was best, and we commend it for that. But, that doesn’t mean we agreed with its action.
This brings us back to ACJC’s decision. We applaud the Council’s charge that Almast must be offered the seat—from the get-go, we saw this as very clearly the right thing to do. We’re also happy with the thoroughness of the Council in this situation; it orchestrated an intensive hearing with penetrative questions and took considerable time with deliberations.
Further, we are glad to see that Senate acted quickly and warmly in adhering to ACJC’s decision and offering Almast a seat at its table, as well as the senators’ welcoming of Almast at their Nov. 1 meeting. The senators embraced Almast with smiles, claps and well-wishes, and it’s little things like those that affirm our belief that Senate—and SA government as a whole—is working for us, not against us.
Looking to the future, we stand with SA leaders in their quest to better democratize our student government and revise their constitution. We hope that with such actions, future incidents like this appeal can be avoided so that our student government will be able to serve its constituents.