[Editorial] Democracy Takes Time
by The Milton Measure on Friday, March 31st, 2017
Over the past two years, Milton’s SGA has written and presumably passed two amendments pertaining to how students elect Head Monitors and Class Reps (this year’s vote count was 345 yea to 108 nea at printing — 15 votes shy of clinching). The goal of last year’s amendment was to allow non-gender-conforming students to more comfortably run for office, while this year’s was geared towards correcting the resulting gender imbalance in the SGA. Our Editorial Board supports the intentions of both of these amendments; however, the process of developing, proposing, and ratifying these amendments was, and is, flawed.
With last year’s and this year’s changes to the SGA election, the SGA spent multiple months formulating a plan and refining the wording of each amendment – which we believe was undoubtedly time well spent – and then in quick procession released both the description of the amendment and the student body vote. Oftentimes, amendments sound good in theory but in practice are dysfunctional. For instance, last year’s amendment passed with a large majority, but after the ensuing elections resulted in an SGA oversaturated with males, popular opinion began to change and the need for other amendment this year was born. Why didn’t members of the Milton community foresee such a result? This Editorial Board believes that at no time in the process of making, disseminating, and voting on the amendment did the SGA give appropriate time for people to digest, discuss, and become truly informed on what the implications of their vote. While it is true that this issue plagues democracies all over the world (i.e Brexit and maybe some events closer to home), in a small community like Milton’s being uneducated on the options in a referendum is unacceptable and the SGA needs to make a more concerted effort to bring its constituents up to speed.
While discussing the problem is a crucial step in finding a solution, we will also offer solutions that we believe will help combat this problem. Before an amendment is voted on by the school, it should be the SGA’s duty to allow for schoolwide forums of discussion in order to better inform the student body about the potential repercussions and benefits the amendment offers. For instance, the SGA and the administration could allow advisories to meet and discuss the new amendment during Wednesday Assembly. Additionally, all Affective Ed classes should have at least one meeting to allow students to hear diverse viewpoints before voting takes place. Finally, news publications including The Measure and The Paper should certainly be given enough time to offer and publish a platform for discourse amongst students. Publications are an excellent way to spread information and varying viewpoints about certain issues like the contents and implications of an SGA amendment.
These manners of communication would provide a platform for more thorough consideration, as well as the expression of conflicting viewpoints. At the SGA assembly on Thursday, the SGA presented all the reasons the amendment should pass and told students “why they shouldn’t worry about” the downsides. This persuasive slant is understandable — the SGA representatives themselves voted to pass the amendment and have spent many hours working on it to boot — but students still deserve, at the least, a forum to voice concerns. While our Editorial Board does indeed back this particular amendment, many of us voted against last year’s similarly rushed amendment.
For any future SGA amendments, we expect the SGA to allow ample time for school wide discussion. This is the best approach for the SGA to represent and maximize the number of well-informed student opinions, which should ultimately be its goal.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=8783