The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


An inconvenient truth

Today is the day that the SMU Student Senate either dismantles its most accomplished standing committee in the name of efficiency, or it is the day SMU students and faculty show the Senate leadership that they really are expected to put thought into radical changes.

To explain: this legislation is an amendment to the Student Senate bylaws by an ad hoc committee called the Research and Recommendations Committee. The revision will make the Senate structure more symmetrical, deleting the Environment Committee and Diversity Committee. They will be replaced with the Student Concerns Committee, which will have a vice chair for each of these respective student “issues” who will not be obligated to carry on any of the former committee’s responsibilities or commitments.

Why not? Well, in the Environment Committee’s case, it’s because it takes an ENTIRE committee of people to perform its operations. There is no reason to believe that any person would want to volunteer for such a position. Unless, of course, all of the current Environment Committee’s responsibilities were abolished.

There is a lot of beguiling going on, and it’s coming from the authors of the legislation as well as the leadership of the Student Senate.

They say that the committee’s responsibilities can just be outsourced to the Environmental Society and Students for a Better Society since they are the only liberals on campus that will care to see them continued.

Yet there is absolutely no legitimate way to dissolve a committee of the Senate and force another student organization outside of the Student Senate to take over that committee’s responsibilities. Whoever has used this justification to try and pacify the opposition to this bill is lying through their teeth.

So if this bill passes, this will mean the end of the Boulevard Recycling Program that the committee administers every fall and gets much acclaim for creating, the crumbling of the stake sign advertising system that the committee and Campus Grounds Crew maintain. It will also mean less media coverage of positive changes occurring at SMU that the Environment Committee has been so successful at attracting in recent years, and the crumbling of awareness and participation with the campus recycling program, which is maintained and publicized primarily by the Environment Committee.

Such an event would also likely hamper the campus recycling goal of diverting 60 percent of SMU waste from the landfill, which is meant to save everyone’s tuition dollars from going to the dump. Most notably, this will likely have a negative impact on SMU’s goal of emulating its benchmark schools, all of which are striving to foster more sustainability and diversity. Even Texas A&M’s Student Government Association touts its Environmental Issues Committee.

What is SMU Senate’s main argument? It believes that because the Environment Committee has lived up to the priorities outlined in its outdated bylaws last amended in 2002, that the committee has thereby fulfilled its mandate, and that it has no additional use to the Student Body.

The first problem with that is the fact that the committee bylaws do not stipulate any specific required action the committee must perform, nor does it say that any of its priorities cannot be expanded or deleted by the committee during its bylaws revision process.

Secondly, one of the Environment Committee mandates (according to its purpose statement) is “environmental education of the campus.” Despite the best efforts of the committee for a number of years, almost all first-year students are oblivious to the recycling system on campus.

Many students don’t know that ozone is or that they breathe it in at elevated levels during the summer. Nor do many SMU students know that 40 percent of all surface waters in the U.S. are too polluted to swim or fish in.

There is obviously a long way to go before there will be no need to educate the campus about environmental problems. Their argument is like saying, “We’ve made airports a lot more secure, so there’s no reason the Homeland Security Department should exist.”

Here’s the real kicker: an ad hoc committee like the R&R committee has no authority to make recommendations concerning the operations or existence of other committees according to the Senate Bylaws. Only the Executive Committee “will be responsible for studying and critiquing the logistics and structure of the Student Senate.”

This is clearly a back-room deal to cut off the one arm of the Student Senate that makes the rest of them look bad by actually looking for ways to bring about progress on this campus and going after it.

If this makes as little sense to you as it does everyone else, excluding the pushers of the bill, you owe it to yourself and this school to go to Hughes-Trigg today at 3:30 p.m.

Show your representatives your disapproval.

Remember the saying, “only dead fish go with the flow.” Voice your opinion.

About the writer:

Joseph Grinnell is a 2006 SMU alum. He can be reached at [email protected].

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