Student Association Sen. Justin Diamond, ESIA-U, posted his first written piece of legislation on Facebook late last month. Diamond called on officials to commission a statue of a bedbug and to rename the School of Media and Public Affairs building as the “David Karpf School of Media and Public Affairs.”
His resolution is a response to a recent debacle between SMPA associate professor Karpf and a New York Times columnist that went viral on Twitter. More than that, it was a call for an unnecessary SA Senate debate.
Diamond, who lost in a run-off election and won a senate seat representing the Elliott School of International Affairs off write-ins, made light of issues that students passionately advocate for through the SA. The senator repeatedly said in the spring that the SA is ineffective, and his legislation mocks that false perception. Diamond’s first piece of legislation reinforces his claim that the SA is a joke, and it has no place on the senate floor.
Karpf and Times columnist Bret Stephens engaged in a Twitter fight after Karpf called the columnist a “bedbug.” The Twitter argument raises its own questions about free speech in academics, but Diamond took it as humor and connected it with the SA and, in turn, the serious student life matters that the SA handles.
The SA is one of the only forms of representation that students have on campus. Although administration may not always listen to the wants and concerns of students, administrators would not be able to hear our voices at all without the governing body.
This past year, the senate has pushed for several issues using bills and resolutions. A call to change the Colonials nickname was debated in the senate, and students’ concerns over late financial aid packages were brought to light through senate legislation. The senate has applauded officials’ review of discrimination and harassment policies, and senators have condemned incidents of vandalism on campus.
The SA tackles problems big and small in student life, and this past year, it made changing the University nickname from the Colonials its main concern. The push to change the moniker has been a contested topic for nearly two years, bringing alumni, students, faculty and officials together to decide whether the name belongs on campus, where some students feel offended by it. While the majority of voting students backed the name change, administrators have not stated whether they support it.
Although the push to change the Colonials nickname has yet to see a response from the University, being able to voice opinions through pieces of legislation is an effective form of advocacy. The SA ensures that student ideas and opinions are on record for the University to see, and Diamond’s resolution takes the SA a step back and makes the organization seem illegitimate.
When Diamond ran for SA president in the spring, he took no formal stance on the Colonials issue and many other initiatives within the SA. He said the SA should be abolished, adding that the body is largely ineffective. Diamond is using the viral story about a bedbug to belittle the SA and its work on issues that students take to heart.
Holding one of the first discussions of the year on whether to add a bedbug statue to campus takes the SA a step back from the real and pertinent issues debated in past years. Diamond is making a fool out of the University’s main student advocacy body, and he should know not to bring the issue to the senate floor.
Hannah Thacker, a sophomore majoring in political communication, is the Hatchet’s contributing opinions editor.