In Fall 2016, Temple Student Government created Parliament, a 37-seat legislative body, to represent the needs of each class and college at Temple University and those of special interests groups and the student body as a whole, The Temple News reported.
Parliament’s job is to pass acts and resolutions that “express the opinions of the student body and improve the functions of Temple Student Government,” according to TSG’s constitution.
In its first year, 36 students were elected to serve in Parliament. Since then, interest in campaigning for Parliament has waned, with just five students winning seats in the now 30-seat body this year, compared to six last year.
Historically, the body has filled open seats through appointment by its own members. However, this year, Parliament is considering ending the appointment process and holding special elections to fill empty seats alongside its typical freshman representatives election in the fall, The Temple News reported.
The Editorial Board endorses abolishing Parliament’s appointment system and compelling all future members to run in publicized elections. As it stands, Parliament’s appointment system has allowed the body to be undemocratic, as it is governed by a majority of students who were not selected by the student body to lead it.
We understand Parliament has made it a priority to fill all of its seats before the start of the academic year. The Editorial Board commends the goal of having diverse, broad representation in the legislative body.
However, allowing members to serve on the body by appointment damages the democratic process that is vital to Parliament’s success. Elections and campaigns provide the opportunity for students to pressure their future leaders to advocate for their needs and creates an incentive for candidates to listen.
The Editorial Board believes Parliament should prioritize filling its seats democratically. Ultimately, it is the student body’s responsibility to represent themselves, and Parliament should focus its energy on advertising its elections to potential candidates well and recruiting candidates from all backgrounds to campaign before elections in the spring and fall.
Democratic elections will help to create a stronger sense of responsibility and accountability in Parliament. As the intended voice of the student body, Parliament should be held to those standards.