Each month the University Senate — a group consisting of 37 student senators, 21 deans and vice-chancellors, 38 tenured or tenure-track faculty, 29 full-time contract faculty and 12 high-level administrators — meets to discuss and make recommendations on university policy and practice to the president, chancellor and board of trustees. The 37 student senators are elected onto the Student Senators Council by the student body, yet after being elected, the senators are not allowed to release their voting records per the SSC’s bylaws. This lack of transparency in voting history obstructs the student body’s ability to hold their representatives accountable and make informed criticisms of the SSC’s actions.
It is normal in the democratic process for representatives to make their voting records publicly available, as it is this transparency that holds them accountable. Our government keeps voting records open to the public for just this reason. Many other universities follow our government’s lead in this regard to promote more informed, transparent discussion of school policy. NYU has clearly fallen behind by failing to make voting records accessible to students.
Voting representatives must be held to a higher level of accountability than the average electorate, whom privacy of the ballot helps vote without judgement from peers or superiors. Representatives, on the other hand, must be transparent about their voting records so that the people who voted for them can know whether they live up to their promises. SSC members should not be allowed to hide behind the anonymity afforded to them by our current system — one that only serves to obfuscate the decision-making process and keep students and faculty in the dark.
Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 10 print edition.
Email Emma Rudd at [email protected]