In response to the DTH’s article (“Student Congress Lacks Female Representation“, Nov. 30), I decided to see how well Congress is representing its constituents based on a different criterion: Their majors.
After all, if men are in congress disproportionate to their numbers, maybe other groups are represented disproportionately as well? Would this mean the campus election system is rigged or stacked in some way so as to prevent underrepresented groups from being elected to office?
Fortunately, every congressperson’s major is available by looking at the student congress website. Here’s the breakdown of all 25 undergraduate seats in student congress, according to the directory. The total number will add up to more than 25 due to double majoring:
|Peace, War & Defense||6|
|English and Comparative Literature||1|
|Eurasian and Eastern European Studies||1|
The data appears to show that congress is not representative of the student body because it is dominated by Political Science, Economics and Peace, War & Defense majors. In fact, in this school full of pre-med students we have only 3 science majors out of 25 congress people.
Now, is the failure of congress to, in the words of the DTH, “fail to demographically or ideologically represent the student body” in this manner the fault of “the way members are elected and the way individuals seek seats make the organization”?
Or is it simply that some people are more likely to want to be on congress than others? Could it be, as many of you are probably screaming right now, that people in politics-related majors (Poli Sci, PWAD, Public Policy, Econ, etc) are more likely to want to be part of a political body? Congress races are rarely competitive. In fact, congress has trouble getting enough people to fill its seats. Almost anyone who wants to be on congress can be.
So if almost everyone who wants to be on congress can be, and no one is stopping anyone from running, and some types of people are more likely to want to be on congress than others, then what is the problem when certain groups of people want to run for congress at lesser rates than others? It can’t be a problem with the system.
If congress doesn’t “demographically or ideologically represent the student body”, what if the student body just doesn’t want to be demographically represented? There are few obstacles to being in student congress, so I must conclude that demographic disproportions are due to people who don’t want to run. Are we going to force people to be in congress who don’t want to be there?
What is the point of all this? So long as the election process is fair and open, there is no reason to worry about disproportionate demographics of any type. So long as there is equality of opportunity, the rest is up to the candidates and the voters. Complaining about demographics when there is equality of opportunity is simply nonsense.