Assembly on the right track

by The Dartmouth Editorial Board | 3/8/95 6:00am

The Student Assembly should be congratulated for the job it has done this term. The Assembly has made tangible efforts to help students, and more importantly, it has stopped most of its internal bickering.

At the beginning of Winter term, the Assembly was in shambles, as the second elected president in two years had resigned.

Then-president Danielle Moore '95 quit at the end of Fall term. She said she was tired of dealing with the internal politics of the Assembly and that the body was actually restricting her attempts to improve the campus.

Assembly Vice President Rukmini Sichitiu '95 took over for Moore and became president. Then, in the first meeting of the term, the Assembly elected John Honovich '97 to replace Sichitiu as vice president. The election of the politically-conservative Honovich was a direct slap at Sichitiu's agenda, which she openly acknowledged as extremely liberal.

To top it off, Sichitiu and Honovich had been at each other's throats all Fall term. Initially, it did not look like things were going to be any better this term.

But to both of their credit, Sichitiu and Honovich put their conflicts in the past and worked together. They both realized that if the Assembly was going to be successful, it had to start with them.

Sichitiu and Honovich do not agree on everything and, in all likelihood, they never will. But they have been able to disagree in private and work together in public on issues they both care about.

They should both be applauded for bringing the Webster Hall issue to the front of campus debate. While they did not always handle the issue correctly -- in particular their ill-fated effort to "Save Webster Hall" -- they did raise the consciousness of students about the need for more programming space when Webster Hall becomes a Special Collections Library.

The "Replace Webster Hall" campaign was more successful. When the Assembly focuses on issues such as this one, where it can legitimately claim to represent the majority of the student body, it comes closer to serving its designated role on campus.

The Student Assembly also made the correct decision concerning the recent proposal to hire a gay, lesbian and bisexual administrator. As the Assembly said, hiring a full-time health-care professional fills a significant campus need, but hiring a full-time administrator is unnecessary. With that resolution, the Assembly provided a reasonable and thought-out student opinion to the administration.

However, the Assembly still has major internal problems. Specifically, the current body is nonrepresentational and Assembly members are not accountable to any constituency. But the Assembly has realized it has problems and has created an external review committee to explore solutions.

The Assembly still has quite a ways to go before it regains the stature and respect it held three years ago. The fiascoes of the past two administrations -- from the attempted impeachment of then-President Nicole Artzer '94 to Moore's resignation -- have severely damaged the credibility that the student government has with administrators, faculty, trustees and even the students.

But thankfully, the Assembly is trying to help itself instead of continually hurting itself. Sichitiu and Honovich have stopped the downward spiral of the Assembly. Now, they are faced with the long climb back to respectability.