Veto disrespects representatives

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Help us, Mr. President... pretty please? We are too scared to have an authoritative opinion on an issue as important as academic freedom, so please remove the burden of representation from us. And in perfect unity with this request, the Undergraduate Student Senate failed to accept responsibility for its actions by lacking the political and philosophical insight to overturn the executive veto.

It is an issue of representation and dereliction of duty. When a representative body puts its stamp, however weakly, on a non-binding resolution of purpose, there is no room for an executive usurpation of that body’s opinion. The reasoning behind the veto, or at least the stated justification, concerned a failure of representation by the Undergraduate Student Senate.

When one unpacks that logic, it fails to flesh out. This reasoning presumes to assign levels of representation inappropriately to branches of government. Understandably, political constancy and philosophy is not considered, nor intellectually approachable, by some parties.

To veto non-binding legislation is to say that “I” am more representative than “they” are. The statement translates into the simple claim that one officer, elected without a majority of student support, is sufficiently more representative than a body of similarly elected membership drawn from every college on the Carnegie Mellon campus.

Additionally perplexing is the failure of a representative body to divorce a concept from its origins. There are an immeasurable number of things in use every day that have been attained from less than amicable research sources. The idea that these things should be discarded, or ignored during debate, is reprehensible.

A governing body that cannot evaluate based on the merits of a policy alone should be disbanded for the good of those it is supposed to serve.

Perhaps the most telling result from the entire endeavor was the willingness of a representative branch of government to let personal politics interfere with an issue as basic as academic freedom. This same willingness allowed one authoritatively flaccid branch of government to fall victim to the situational politics of an executive branch, a branch similarly void of any semblance of valor.

The months will pass and another opportunity to debate political philosophy on the floors of a governing body will be lost. The moments of clarity, once accessible if they had only been addressed, will fall through the cracks of the calendar and fully out of the organization’s memory.

For any organization, the time comes when no backdoor bailout can help it save face with the electorate. The latest trend towards governance by personal whim risks undermining a legacy of proper governance. The responsibilities of representation are meant to trump the fears of reprisal.