Graduate and undergraduate groups want student body to answer yes/no questions
ATHENS, Ohio (March 8, 2007) -- This week, both student senates voted to put questions on their ballots asking students their opinions about the university's administration.
The resolution to put questions on the May senate ballots originated with the organization Students for an Effective and Accountable Leadership. On Monday night, SEAL presented to Graduate Student Senate a set of yes-or-no questions relating to shared governance, budget transparency and President McDavis' leadership.
Ballot opinion poll passes
The following questions will appear on the May Graduate Student Senate and Student Senate ballots:
- Do you feel that the McDavis administration seeks out and respects student opinion with regard to university policies and the decision-making process?
- Do you feel that the McDavis administration makes university budgeting and financial information available to the greater university community?
- Do you have confidence in President McDavis' ability to lead Ohio University?
Graduate Student Senate declined to put the SEAL questions forward, instead proposing and passing its own, similar set of questions. Last night, Student Senate accepted Graduate Senate's set of questions for its ballot (see "Ballot opinion poll passes" sidebar).
Framed in the negative ("Do you feel that the McDavis administration has failed to..."), SEAL's questions would have led to biased results, senators said. "These questions remind me of those lawyer shows, where they say 'Isn't it true that...,'" one graduate student senator said.
SEAL representatives agreed to discontinue efforts to put their own language on the ballot.
Though both senates passed the revised questions, representatives in the groups expressed reservations. Senator Amanda Estok asked, "Wouldn't this tarnish the reputation for prospective students?" Senator Michael Adeyanju asked SEAL why use this ballot approach to get questions and suggestions to the administration.
"I feel my opinion sometimes as a student is discounted," SEAL President Maggie O'Toole said, noting that she meets regularly with her Ohio University professors, associate dean and dean.
Student senators discussed their reasons for putting the questions forth. "We as student government leaders get to ask these questions every day. However, we felt it was appropriate to extend the opportunity to our students," Graduate Student Senate President Dominic Barbato said.
"By no means are we expressing opinions as a senate. We'll leave that up to the students," Student Senate Vice President Paul Crites said.
Student senators had suggestions such as posing open-ended question in addition to yes-or-no questions. Barbato said that although the idea had merit, because of cost and time restrictions, it would be impossible to analyze the input of so many respondents.
"Though I do not consider this language to be the most constructive, I hope it will open the door for a deeper evaluation of this administration," said Senator Patrick Heery.
Students also wondered what would happen before and after results were posted. Crites said senate plans to have panel discussions before the election so that students can get informed. "We're going to be as proactive about this as possible," he said.
Barbato said that once results from voting are available, he would present them to the Board of Trustees.
Vice President for Finance and Administration Bill Decatur also was present at last night's Student Senate meeting to give an overview of the university's budget and answer the few questions students posed following his presentation.
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Written by Elizabeth Boyle
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