Editorial: There’s more than one way to put students first

Editorial Board

For those students who have attended meetings of the GSB Senate to represent one of their clubs during allocations, or who have simply wanted to give their student government a piece of their minds, having to wait around for their turn is a fact of life. GSB spends lots of time hearing presentations from such entities as CyRide or ISU Police, and also spends time tediously working through details.

Currently, the chairs of Senate committees give their reports, the Executive Branch gives its comments, and the Senate hears a presentation from either the program or group of the week. At that point, Open Forum takes place for students who have comments. Then the Senate considers special orders (such as seating new senators and considering resolutions), followed by debate on and consideration of bills. At the end of the meeting, bills are introduced for their first read.

At last week’s meeting, the Senate reordered the agenda as an exercise in putting students first.

The format last week, however, differed. New senators were seated immediately, and Open Forum occurred after that. The program of the week gave its presentation next, and if there had been a group of the week, it would have been next. Then, after reports from committee chairs and Executive Branch comments, the Senate would deal with bills to fund student groups. The two final events of meetings, debate and consideration of bills and the introduction of bills, remained in their place.

The reordering surely is benign and well-intentioned, and certainly is very nice for members of the general student body who only need to attend Senate meetings for one purpose.

Seating new senators before the meeting actually begins, so they can interact during the meeting, is a good idea. Allowing students to speak early  in the meetings, so that their questions, comments, and concerns can frame the whole night’s discussion, is a good idea. Equating “putting students first” with “considering funding bills earlier on,” however, seems odd. Serving students — or any constituency — isn’t primarily bound up with money. Leading by example is just as important.

The senators of GSB could do a lot to put students first by judiciously thinking about what kinds of bills and resolutions they are considering.

We find it ironic that, at a Senate meeting that was reordered to put students first, the Senate devoted some of its time discussing a resolution that supports “the Removal of Tuition Set Aside from Student Tuition Costs.” The resolution stated GSB gives “its full and utmost support” to ISU Ambassadors as they lobby for the elimination of tuition set-aside. It also stated that the university should end the practice.

That resolution was very nice. It was also immensely irrelevant.

We would be very worried if the GSB Senate did not support ISU Ambassadors, as Ambassadors is a subdivision of GSB. It also goes without saying that GSB supports the elimination of a program that increases the cost of tuition. Further, ending tuition set-aside is the prerogative of the university and the Board of Regents, not GSB.

The subject matter of the discussion that goes on in a meeting is just as important as the order in which it is considered.