Student Judiciary looks to new protocol for council seat distribution
The Associated Students of Madison will see a change in representation on Student Council when the Student Judiciary completes the reapportionment process.Image By: Betsy Osterberger-Cardinal File Photo
Faced with a lack of precedent and no road-map, UW-Madison’s Student Judiciary aims to create a new protocol for how student council seats are distributed across university colleges.
This reapportionment process begins with deciding what categories of students should be represented on student council, by year, college and transfer status, among others. Then the Student Judiciary must evaluate the student populations in each category to determine the number of representatives from each group.
Currently, student council hosts representatives from the colleges of Life Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Education, Engineering, Human Ecology/Nursing/Pharmacy, Letters and Science, Law, Medicine, Business, and Freshman, Graduate, and Special Student representatives. The 33 seats are divided so each college gets equal representation based on the size of their student population.
The Associated Students of Madison bylaws indicate that the Student Judiciary is required to do reapportionment once every four years among reasonable academic units. However, in past years this process has been done quickly and behind closed doors, according to Chief Justice William Olson.
“What they did was pulled up the data from each of the colleges to see what the rough population breakdown was, decided that it didn’t look that different and that was the reapportionment process. Just four hours and 3 emails,” Olson stated.
This year the judiciary is attempting to implement new guidelines to standardize the reapportionment process for future committees. In February of this year, the Student Judiciary passed a resolution outlining formal steps that should be taken in the reapportionment process.
One of these steps is to hold an open forum for any member of the UW-Madison student body to offer opinions on what they would like to see in reapportionment.
“We’re trying to be a little bit more careful about it this time because it does matter to some people,” Olson said.
This year students have suggested adding representative seats for international students, transfer students and short-course students, according to Olson.
Adding categories beyond university colleges will make it difficult to prevent students from having their votes counted twice. For example, Olson questioned if an international student’s vote would be counted in the race for their college’s representative or for an international student representative.
Olson said he believes that double-counting has been a problem in the past with freshmen.
According to Olson, data from the last reapportionment added up to 115 percent of the student body. As freshmen are roughly 15 percent of the student body, this could indicate that in the last reapportionment, freshmen were counted in the population of their respective colleges despite having voted for a separate freshmen representative
“A lot of freshmen tend to cluster in certain colleges, if that’s the case those colleges could be getting sort of a double vote, so those colleges would be more likely to lose seats [during this reapportionment] relative to other ones,” Olson stated.
The Student Judiciary Committee held an open forum Monday evening to allow students to voice concerns leading into the reapportionment process. While no students attended the forum, their meeting Tuesday will include an open forum before they determine representative categories.
“I just wanted to make sure that people who wanted to voice their opinions about it could, because it’s obviously something that dramatically impacts representation on student government,” Olson said.
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