ASB needs transparency, accountability

A democracy functions best when there are checks and balances. Shouldn’t this apply to school governments as well?

In Associated Student Body’s (ASB) constitution, Article 8 states that all proposals for amendment must go through the Student Congress. The Student Congress is a council of representatives from each fourth period class. Its main purpose is to deliver the student body’s opinions and recommendations to ASB and the administration. However, for many years, the Student Congress has been non-existent, so ASB should not be able to amend their constitution. Yet, ASB has been doing so without going through the proper channels and therefore violating their own constitution. With no student input, these amendments do not represent the student body as a whole and are not in their best interest.

Being that they are the governing board of student organizations on campus, ASB ought to make their rules transparent. When people do not know how a system works, it is difficult for them to challenge it. They simply accept the notions and move on. All of our information on the workings of the school government comes from word of mouth, which is unreliable compared to published documents. Obscure rules also lead to wasted efforts. If the rules are not presented to students and word of mouth cannot be trusted, the only way to learn the rules is through trial and error.  

ASB’s new amendment, ratified Aug. 22, established that fundraisers cannot be planned further than three months in advance. The National Honor Society submitted fundraiser request forms on Aug. 9 and was denied the day after. The request was wrongly subjected to the new amendment as it was submitted long before its ratification date. Because the new amendment had not been ratified at that time, the denial from ASB was a breach of its own power. According to ASB Committee Leader of Clubs and Funds senior Nazlie Figueroa, the new amendment was prompted by clubs submitting fundraiser requests forms further than three months in advance. However, ASB submitted a fundraiser request form for their own club on May 23 for a fundraiser nearly four months in advance on Sept. 20. It appears that only clubs other than ASB would prompt the creation of amendments as such. Double-standards like this make ASB’s actions questionable.

When somebody unknowingly breaks the law, they are still punished because it is their responsibility to know the said laws. It should be the students’ responsibility to know the rules that apply to student organizations. However, that would not be feasible if the rules are not released publicly to the student body. Because ASB makes the rules and enforces them, they should also be obligated to make them easily accessible to the student body.

The solution is simple. ASB needs to be transparent and the Student Congress needs to be revived. ASB should release their constitution and bylaws, open them to the public, publish them online, and provide physical copies in the Business and Activities office. It is the only way they can be held accountable and prevent future complications for the student body.

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