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The Student Assembly last night convened for the first time this semester marking the beginning of an effort to revive campus interest in student government.
Although a funded and more centralized student government will replace the Assembly next fall pending student and Faculty approval, the Assembly pledged to try to alter its image as an ineffective body while working to rally support for a new government next year
Only about hall of the Assembly's 96 seats were filled at last night's initial meeting, which came later in the term than ever before in the Assembly's four-year history
A survey of 11 of the 13 Houses yesterday afternoon revealed that only Leverett held an election to choose its representatives The other Houses either had no more candidates than the number of alloted seats or had not yet decided on representatives
Many House committee chairmen said this was the first year a lack of candidates had made elections necessary, attributing the low interest to perception of the Assembly as "lame-duck" with the expectation of a new government. The attitude among many student is "why get involved when everything's dying out?" said Currier House Chairman Alan Khazei '83
The Student Assembly, formed in 1978 after eight years without a student government, originally had broad student support with twice as many candidates as seats an high turnout in the first election.
Support and interest gradually slipped prompting the drive for the new government that was originally slated for implementation this spring. The Assembly convened in the fall expecting it to be the body's last term but Faculty objections to guarantees of minority representation for the new government thrust the Assembly into existence for at least another semester
Despite the unprecedented lack of interest and representation in the Assembly Natasha Pearl '83, who was uncontestedly selected chairman of the Assembly told the approximately 45members present that in addition to "getting out constitution pushed through," the body must work as a watch dog. The Assembly should work to prevent administrators from "sneaking in things" during a time when students are largely apathetic and the government is in transition, Pearl said
Pearl said after the meeting she will work through House committees this week to at tract more members to the Assembly The Assembly image of being historically ineffective and the lame duck perception had depleted the Assembly Pearl said
But a former Assembly member, who asked not to be identified, said the previous Assembly had organized the section of representatives poorly, devoting all its energy to work on the new constitution
Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, agreed yesterday that "a good number of students have lost interest because we're in a transition period and the uncertainty of the future of the new student council." But he added that a renewed commitment to more academic study and the need of many students to earn money had cut short available time for activities in part-time jobs like student government
Assemply elections were the only business last night, but members expect the Assembly to address the problem of demographic disparities in the Houses and shrinking financial and as well as the perennial possibility of a College wide concert this spring.
Some believe however that the Assembly's attempts to be active may be hindered only by lack of manpower but also by lack of mandate. Students in leadership position like the Assembly and the student Faculty Committee on Houses and Undergraduate Life almost all serving as volunteers with no electoral mandate to justify their action.
In Assembly executive elections only the posts of vice chairman and social committee chairman were conteste
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