We need public meetings

A new proposal to include unelected students in Honor Board deliberations will give the student government a much-needed injection of community involvement.

The proposal calls for the deans to create a list of students to sit in on cases. The Honor Board would select two from the list for each case. They will give their two cents, but they will not vote.

The proposal is a good first step in bringing down the wall that separates regular students from our elected leaders. Moreover, the appointed students will possess minds unaffected by the subconscious groupthink that permeates any decision-making board.

Our student government has approachability and accountability problems that stem from the merger of Student Council, which works better transparent, and Honor Board, which needs secrecy. The secrecy of the Honor Board has become the status quo across the whole  student government, and community involvement has suffered.

The student government meetings’ minutes are public but hardly publicized, and the meetings themselves are confidential. Students don’t know what their leaders are doing.

An  evaluation released Monday suggests positive steps. It calls for multiple weekly meetings next year. Unfortunately, there would only be one public meeting per week. Let’s expand that.
The student government should meet four periods per week, because it calls for as much time, if not more, than a class. Only one meeting should be closed.

The student government survived this year with only one closed meeting per week (and no open ones), so this set-up should give it enough closed meetings. Other meetings should be public, and these open meetings should take place during the periods in which the most students are free. The evaluation calls for more meetings, but more than one needs to be public.

An open student government makes leaders more approachable and more accountable. It forces members to be on the top of their game, because voters will know what their leaders are doing.
Moreover, it gives regular students a means to access the machinery of change through routes other than ad hoc committees. And by increasing the number of informed students, it creates a dynamic marketplace of ideas.

To make our student government more in touch with the community, the body needs to bring student voices to honor board deliberations and hold multiple open meetings. The government has accomplished the former; they need to realize the latter as well.

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