The Community Rep. debate took a sharp turn today in what constitutes a watershed moment in TCU Senate history. For the first time in a very long time, the student body has decided to allow community representatives to assume the powers of full senators, undermining the power of traditionally elected senators. The outcome of the vote was extremely close and was accompanied by a record number of abstentions for a 2-proposition ballot (12.63% of the electorate abstained). The results are displayed as ECOM published them:
The language in referendum 3 is contentious and will likely take several months to implement. Nonetheless, the closeness of the vote hints at a major rift in the student body and in Senate. The sense is that many advocates of prop-4 chose their stance as a “lesser of two evils” rather than a long term solution. Regardless of the outcome, the new rules will be challenged during presidential campaigns in the Spring.
Commentary: This writer is an opponent of special representation in general. The best student governments are those in which members derive the same legitimacy from the democratic system. Today’s vote undermines the democratic system and blatantly disregards principles of “one man, one vote.” Enfranchising marginalized communities through parallel structures is neither necessary or proper for the Tufts community. This writer has different ideological views from those that support the new rules. It is understandable that marginalized communities deserve a greater voice, but in this case the legitimacy of the TCU Senate is at stake. In democratic systems, legitimacy is derived from electoral process. If a marginalized community wants its voice heard, it should encourage its members to run for office. If a community member has a specific concern, it can meet with senators, appear at public forum or simply send a letter.
I’ve found a solution to the problem. Everyone join one of the four groups represented so everyone can vote twice!