Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Progress on Senate Representation

After an initial setback, I'm happy to report some good news on expanding NTRF representation in the Senate.

Last month, I requested that the Senate Executive Committee ask the ERG committee (on which I sit) to examine NTRF apportionment, as their numbers have increased by 8% since 2004.  The SEC initially refused to even put it on their agenda, on the technicality that the NTRF Senate seat is not apportioned but a Single Member Constituency.   (Single Member Constituency seats are defined in Article 3.5  Senate Plan of Organization as a way to allow token representation of constituencies not explicitly called out in the Plan.   On the face of it, this seems like a reasonable accomodation; however it takes no account of changing demographics.).   I appealed the decision and got the SEC to put my request on the agenda for their  next meeting.   They met and discussed it -- then declined to forward it to the ERG for the reason that the NTRF are a Single Member Constituency!  (Their words were "current representation [is] aligned with the requirements set forth in the Senate's Plan of Organization",  but the meaning is the same).

However, another (and it turns out better) opportunity to press the issue came up recently.   The ERG was asked by the SEC to consider that part-time graduate students, who number 3,591 and have no representation, be made a Single Member Constituency.  The ERG endorsed such representation as it is clearly needed, but will also request to the SEC that, when the Plan of Organization undergoes its regular review next year, all Single Member Constituencies be re-evaluated  to provide them with proportional representation instead.   This is a better solution because it takes aim at the very idea of Single Member Constituencies, which in my view is a fundamentally unfair system.  It gives us allies across a wide range of campus populations.  A rising tide will lift all boats.

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