Sep 272010
 
Authors: Jim Sojourner

If student government Vice President Jennifer Babos doesn’t preside over Wednesday’s Senate meeting, it will be the fifth week straight. According to Senate bylaws, any Senator who misses five Senate meetings in a year can be removed from office.

It’s about time to apply that same standard to Babos.

Breaking a long-time precedent, our Associated Students of CSU vice president has decided it’s no longer important for her to act as speaker of the Senate during its weekly meetings on Wednesday nights.

This decision, Babos told me, is a challenge to the status quo and an attempt to take the vice presidency in a new direction.

But I’d prefer to call it what it is: a misuse of student fees, an insult to every ASCSU senator and a violation of the ASCSU constitution and the Senate bylaws.

According to Article II, Section 206 of the ASCSU Constitution, “The Senate shall be presided over by the Speaker who shall be the duly elected ASCSU Vice President.”

Add Article III, Section 304, which says, “the Vice President shall sit as the Speaker of the Senate,” and you’ve got a pretty good picture of exactly what Babos should be doing on Wednesday nights.

Nevertheless, in an interview Monday, Babos and President Cooper Anderson told me their decision to move the vice presidency out of the speaker role was influenced by two reasons: First, a rift often forms between the vice president and the rest of the executive branch, and second, the language in the constitution is contradictory and muddled as to whether the vice president actually needs to chair Senate.

Now the language of the constitution seems plenty clear to me, but I brought up Article 1, H in the Senate bylaws anyway, which states “The Speaker shall … preside over all sessions of the Senate.”

Babos’s brilliant defense: The bylaws don’t apply to her because she’s an executive.

And people call Barack Obama an elitist.

Babos’s clear lack of interest in chairing the Senate insults every senator who takes the time to show up on Wednesdays night to try to make CSU a better institution.

The message she sends is clear: The Senate children can play government while she and the grownups make real executive decisions. Students didn’t elect her to run Senate, she told me.

So what did they elect her for?

Neither Anderson nor Babos have a job description. Instead, they rely on the constitution and bylaws to outline exactly what their positions entail. Except, it seems, when those documents outline a job description Babos doesn’t like.

And instead of fulfilling the job description required of her by ASCSU’s own documents, Babos said her priority this year is fulfilling the campaign promises that got her and Anderson elected. Admirable maybe, but when I pressed her on whether it’s worth sacrificing the Senate and violating the constitution and bylaws to complete those goals, she refused to answer, saying everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

So here are a few more facts to help you form your own opinion:

Babos gets paid $7,250 in student fees for her term compared to the $1,000 the speaker pro tempore gets to do Babos’s speaker job for her. That $7,250 came directly out of student pockets this year and dropped right into hers.

When I asked Babos if she thinks she deserves to get paid for skipping Senate meetings, she put it better than I could.

“I think its open to interpretation what I get paid for,” she said.

Well here’s one interpretation: When I don’t do my job, I don’t get paid. When you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid either. When Babos doesn’t do her job, she gets paid anyway and calls it taking the vice presidency in a new direction.

I call that gross misuse of students’ hard-earned money. You might call it robbery.

By neglecting the duties explicitly outlined in the ASCSU constitution, Babos is thumbing her nose at the students who pay her salary and the senators she’s supposed to build a relationship with. Her absence leaves the Senate floundering without a crucial tie-breaking vote or a true leader. So as our interview wrapped up, I asked her what kind of leadership example she thinks she’s setting for the Senate.

“I think this is an opportunity for them to develop their own leadership and utilize the people in Senate who are great, great leaders,” she replied.

Let’s hope so, Ms. Babos, because a great, great leader you are not. It’s time to consider a new vocation.

Managing Editor Jim Sojourner is a senior journalism major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 6:12 pm

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