Staff editorial: Senate fails to use survey results

Story by The Spectator staff

After months of columns, editorials and letters to the editor urging students to participate in the decision about the Blugold Commitment, the voice of the student body was not heard after all.

Student Senate passed a resolution Monday in favor of the plan by a 17-15 vote, even though 69 percent of students said they disapproved of it in a recent campuswide survey.

The version that passed included an amendment that dropped the tuition increase at $1,200 after four years; however, the provisions for financial aid stayed at 40 percent.

The Spectator editorial board decided unanimously, with one abstention, that, based on student support, the senate should not have passed the resolution.

Some senators expressed concern at the meeting that the data of the survey had been ‘skewed’ by anti-voting campaigns and unfounded rumors about the goals of the commitment. This is a case of the senate assuming it knows what is best for students, without knowing how they’d react to the amendment. It is interesting that the senate settled on $1,200, even though there was no question on the survey asking students if they would be comfortable with any dollar amount or financial aid percentage other than $1,500 and 40 percent.

The survey’s more than 3,000 respondents set a campus record. Whether or not students were misinformed or swayed by a grassroots ‘vote-no’ campaign, they came forward with a resounding opinion – just one most senators did not favor.

The student survey should have been set up to more effectively reflect student opinion, instead of just proposing one option that eventually would be changed anyway. Giving any alternatives to the original proposal on the survey would have more precisely gauged student opinion. Then, senators would have known, without a doubt, if their decision was indeed a sufficient compromise.

In the end, we just hope the senate’s decision has not tarnished its reputation and does not discourage students from participating in future campus decisions for fear their voices will not be heard.