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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Editorial

A constitutional amendment granting voting power to Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate culture representatives would diminish the democratic process of campus elections by granting voting privileges to non-elected representatives and promoting unequal representation of class years.

The amendment, which students can vote on in the April 25 election, would for all intents and purposes negate the difference between elected senators and culture group representatives. Culture representatives serve an important function on the Senate - they voice concerns of individual communities within the greater student body. But they do not run in a campus-wide election and thus are not spokespersons for their classes. Under no circumstances, then, should they be afforded the same voting rights as elected senators.

Four culture groups - the Tufts Transgendered Lesbian Gay Bisexual Collective, the Association of Latin American Students, the Pan-African Alliance, and the Asian Community at Tufts - either elect or appoint a representative to the Senate. Democratic systems such as the TCU Senate inherently ensure the voices of all peoples will be heard, and Tufts' system of culture representatives only furthers this ideal. But to grant voting rights to non-elected individuals based simply on their membership in a culture group is to infringe on the rights of the student body to select its representatives.

Members of culture groups, like all other students, should be represented by the senators they elect. If cultural issues do indeed need to play a prominent role in student government decisions, those running for Senate should include these issues in their platforms. If there exists a lack of cultural representation, the fix must be democratic. And while some might argue that voting for the amendment makes for a democratic solution, future Tufts students who did not play a part in making this decision will deal with its unfair repercussions.

Additionally, culture representatives are often upperclassmen. Under the current system, each class is afforded equal representation in the Senate and receives an equal number of votes. Allowing culture representatives to vote would disturb the equal representation.

Students who win their Senate seats through elections, contested or not, are held accountable because they may face re-election the following year. If a senator is not meeting the desires of various cultural constituencies, he or she may not be re-elected. To mandate that specific cultures be given voting rights on the Senate is tantamount to setting quotas for the makeup of student government. Furthermore, to randomly give certain groups - but not others - voting rights, is to say that certain cultures should be given a stronger voice than their counterparts.

The Senate is a forum for student voices, and culture reps fulfill an important role in that discourse. Senate meetings are open to all students, and different groups should be encouraged to attend meetings and speak their positions. But the student body must maintain the right to elect its own leaders, and granting voting power to culture reps would destroy a system of democratic representation essential to Tufts student government.