Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stumbling in Public

I made the front cover photo of The Dartmouth today... in a moose costume. The good news is that the moose looks great, the bad news is that for the inexperienced mascot (me) getting up and down those Haldeman classroom stairs took quite an effort. The moose mascot is brand new and made its debut during freshmen orientation. As a point of clarification, Student Assembly, of which I'm an officer, does not want Dartmouth to be "the Moose." Instead, we want to remain the "Big Green" while using the moose as a mascot. It's just like North Carolina - they are the "Tar Heels" but they use a ram as their mascot. Also, like every Dartmouth student I know, I love Keggy and he's definitely here to stay. Instead, the moose is meant to serve as a much more politically correct sidekick. Because Keggy is, well, a keg, his potential to represent Dartmouth officially is non-existent. The Moose has the potential of being a visual symbol that can fill an absence created by the end of the Indian mascot. After all, what exactly is "Big Green" supposed to look like?

The article also discusses Student Assembly's proposed new constitution. Perhaps the most significant change is the proposed increase of presidential and executive discretionary spending limits from $300 and $500, respectively, to $500 and $1000. The money can also be used for programming purposes under the new constitution while previously it was only allowed for "administrative expenditures." Normally, a project gets funded by passing legislation in SA's General Assembly, which contains all Assembly members.

So why is this increase important? To some, it might seem like an unwarranted power-grab. But it is definitely necessary. Getting legislation passed is extremely time consuming and often takes 3 or 4 weeks. In a 10 week term, that's a long time. It slows down the ability of the Assembly to get projects done, particularly if many things are going on at once. For example, I'm the chair of the Academic Affairs committee, along with Corey Chu '08, and we currently have 27 projects in the works. If we needed to pass legislation for even half of them, our efficacy would be slashed. Typically, there's only enough time to debate two pieces of legislation per General Assembly. That leaves 18 open slots per term (given that we won't meet during finals), which means that each of SA's four committees will only have four or five opportunities to propose legislation each term. But that assumes that our need for passing legislation is evenly divided throughout the term, which is never the case. So basically, everything gets bogged down in an endless back flow of legislation.

Students want their leaders to get things done, not to endlessly debate small amounts of money in public. Student Assembly has an annual budget of $70,000, so $500 or $1000 is not a very significant amount, given that the General Assembly meets only about 25 times each year. Empowering the Assembly's executive board to make these allocations would ensure that we can move quickly and efficiently on small projects, and spend the needed time in General Assembly to discuss legislation that is important, not secondary not-controversial programs. I just want to get my projects done. Let me do my job.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing the moose. It really is the ideal mascot -- distinctive (one of very few college moose, unlike the tigers or bears), regionally justified (the largest wild animal to visit the campus), connected to Dartmouth tradition (Moose Mountain), fierce and potentially deadly (moose kill people in the Northwest), and coincidentally similar to the name of the school, allowing for a new coinage ("Dartmoose").

Does the moose have a proper name, the way CU's bison is Ralphie, UNC's ram is Rameses, A&M's cow is Bevo, or Purdue's locomotive is "the Boilermaker"?

Anonymous said...

Our Ivy competitors will surely label it Mickey Moose.