I’ve never written a post for Innermost Parts before, and I’m not sure why I am now. Mostly it is because I did not get a chance to air out my ideas at the Senate meeting last night, and I think that a good number of people who care about Brandeis read this blog, either to compliment or to critique. The bylaw to change the way the Senate gives SMRs was defeated by a wide margin, in part due to the impassioned defenses of Rachel Graham Kagan and Andrew Brooks, who were there under the system as it stood before the constitutional changes in how the SAF was apportioned. And they were right to warn us away from that path, because it sounded like utter chaos. However, the fact that those who supported the bylaw change were swayed by those arguments is a confirmation to me that I had a fundamentally different view of this bill from my co-sponsors. So I write this to ask this community of people who care, do you think that the system as it stands is the best it can be? Because I don’t, and I think that if that bylaw amendment was not the best way to go about reform, we need to find a way that is.
Something that came up during the case and in a recent Justice editirial was the decision by Lev and I not to recuse ourselves from the vote on the Bill Ayers / Robert King Senate Money Resolution. The Justice editorial stated,
We also take issue with the fact that Senators for the Class of 2011 Lev Hirschhorn and Alex Melman voted on the resolution even though they are members of Democracy for America, one of the organizations sponsored by the Senate’s $900. This is a conflict of interest, and the senators should have recused themselves.
I said this in the trial, but I want to repeat it here: No goddamn way. This would be true if we had a true “picuniary interest” in the vote; ie if we were set to personally make a lot of money because of it. Thats not true in the least; the SMR would have merely granted money towards an event that one of the clubs we were in was helping to plan. Unlike F-board, an organization with closed meetings that is supposed to remain unbiased and grant money in the most equitable way possible, the Senate is supposed to have opinions on its vote. This is reinforced by the ability of clubs to endorse candidates for Senate; F-board candidates are supposed to remain impartial and can receive no endorsements. To ask us to recuse ourselves from the vote is akin to asking every Senator who planned any project from recusing him or herself from the vote on whether to grant money to that project. This is not what the Senate has done in the past nor is it what the Senate should do in the future.
I said all this at the Senate meeting after careful consideration of the idea of recusal, suggested at the last minute by Treasurer Max Wallach. It is also important to note that every sophomore in the room (our constituency) urged us to vote on the issue lest they not be represented. To recuse ourselves would have been the irresponsible thing to do.