Student government is currently organized the same way it was when there were only 2,000 students at Central Oregon Community College. “ASCOCC considers potential restructure” on page 4 talks about this, and about how the Associated Students of COCC are rethinking the hierarchy of their system.
We at The Broadside couldn’t be more happy this is happening, and encourage the big step ASCOCC is thinking about taking.
Our opinion is, however, that hierarchy is not the only problem with ASCOCC’s system.
This is how the student government runs now: Three members are elected by a student ballot where, hopefully, students vote on Blackboard for their candidates. These three then hire the remaining three, and all six work out among themselves who will take what job. All six positions are equal.
On paper, it seems democratic. But when you look at the fact that less than five percent of all eligible students actually voted last year and, with little variation, every year, it gets dangerously close to arbitrary. If you think it’s not, consider this: When two candidates tied for votes last election, the winner was picked out of a hat. And that’s in the ASCOCC constitution.
Also consider that a member of student government can potentially serve for three years.
Now look across the street at OSU-Cascades’ student government, the Associated Students of Cascades Campus. They have a hierarchy (a president, treasurer and so on) and serve for a maximum of two years. At a four-year institution, whereas COCC students can serve three years at a two-year institution.
OSU-Cascades has such a small student base that voting wouldn’t make sense, but it’s obvious COCC doesn’t have a large voting base either. Adding into that the fact that students can serve for three years and hire the other members of student council, it’s easy to imagine an environment where power can be abused. Such as three years ago, when student government hired an attorney and a public relations consultant and paid them over $56,000 combined of student fee money, among other things.
Of course, our current student government has been very responsible with student fees. But we think that when going through with this restructure, ASCOCC should take another look at the election process, the hiring process, and the term limits to ensure that student government will always be as fair as it is now, if not fairer.