December 26, 2006

soapbox of twigs » Representative Democracy 101

I know, I am supposed to be on vacation but… 
I have to repost this in it entirety with a little bit of bolding to point out a few things that are very similar to the Actions of the MSU Executive.

Representative Democracy 101

If I were an instructor in Political Science, I would want to teach a practical course: Representative Democracy. It would seem to me that the first lesson in representative democracy ought to be one with two sides – one for the representatives, and one for the represented. The lesson plan would be simple, summarised with just sentences.

The lesson for the representatives: listen to your constituents, and listen well – represent their wishes, concerns, and desires.

The lesson for the represented: Don’t let your representatives not represent you.

Why is this important? We only have to look so far as the SFSS (Simon Fraser Student Society) to understand that answer. This summer, some (seven) of the Directors of the SFSS decided to entirely ignore the first part of the lesson in representative democracies: the importance of listening to constituents. Seven directors violated bylaws and collective agreement language and outraged students. While this is not necessarily a unique event, what they did when students started to speak up against their actions certainly was.

When the students – members of the Society – began to speak up and ask questions, these seven directors began holding secret meetings. They started to try and discredit the members. They ignored them. They obfuscated and frustrated. They wronged – they did not listen.

The students, however, know well and understand the lesson in representative democracy. When their representatives ceased to represent them, they began to take action. They didn’t let their representatives not represent them. The students availed themselves of all the abilities they had in the policies, bylaws, and laws that govern their society. One group of students began to collect signatures on a petition to hold a special general meeting – to consider the impeachment of the seven directors. The directors had neglected to represent the represented, and now the ill-represented were fighting back.

The seven directors (by now being called the Group of Seven or G7) ignored this petition – despite the fact that it garnered over 2,400 signatures, nearly twice the amount required to force a special general meeting of the society.

Despite this poorly disguised attack on democracy, students called for an held a Special General Meeting of the SFSS and impeached the seven directors who had neglected to represent their constituents. The seven impeached directors contested their impeachments in the courts and lost.

Democracy worked the way it should.

You know the whole meeting in secret thing, sounds like the SRA.  Heck, they even vote to go into secret meetings by secret ballot! The events at SFSS started when the G7 fired, without cause and in violation of policy, a member of the SFSS staff because that staff member was more concerned with serving students than serving the student political careers of the student politican hacks.  Sound familar to McMaster Students?

Source: soapbox of twigs » Representative Democracy 101