Thursday, December 28, 2006

On Resignation

Someone I deeply respect sent me an email yesterday with the following definition:

res·ig·na·tion (rĕz'ĭg-nā'shən) n. The act of admitting defeat in a game like chess.

Perhaps the intention was to convince me that resigning my seat on the ASISU Student Senate was not the greatest of decisions, but I assure you, it is the greatest decision I have made with only myself and my well-being in mind in quite some time.

Long before the Reed Gym expansion issue came to a vote and long before I fought the hard fight over the compromised election and somewhat shady proposed constitution, I had thought seriously of resigning.

Several months ago I was sitting in a meeting with the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and I remember telling him that I felt that student government had quit representing the true needs of students quite some time ago. I told him I felt student leaders were in it for the money--the monthly stipend they receive for their service and for a chance at being a part of the most inclusive group on campus. I still believe that.

However, something changed with me. I started doing my job for the stipend alone. My heart used to be in it. I used to eat, sleep, think student government and I didn't care that I received a check for $325 a month. It's $325 and to me that sum of money doesn't matter. I've done more difficult jobs for less. The amount still doesn't matter to me, but in the last month or so the only reason I continued to be a senator and didn't resign was because my check for $325 was being donated to a good cause--Idaho Yesterdays.

The Monday night before the campus-wide referendum began at ISU, I assumed I was sitting in the last Senate meeting of my student leadership career. It was until Mark Bolinger, a fellow senator from the College of Arts & Sciences, asked me at the break if what we were doing with our new constitution was legal, that I realized my service wasn't yet complete. That following Thursday morning I filed two cases with the ASISU Supreme Court questioning the credibility of the election and openly criticizing the power-grab that both the executive and legislative branches of student government had participated in with the new constitution. I fought the good fight knowing my days on the Senate were numbered regardless of the outcome of either cases.

Sure, there were great victories; the most expensive Reed Gym expansion option failed, the proposed constitution will have to be revisited, and student government as a whole had to take a moment to reflect on its true purpose.

What did I learn from my time on the Senate? More than I probably realize. I learned that politics does ruin friendships no matter how hard you try to maintain those friendships. I learned that that on dissenting voice does matter. And I learned that I don't "fall in line" well. Conscience matters most to me.

What did I accomplish while a member of the Senate? Caucus is now an open meeting, I was a part of a movement that ended a $22 million gym expansion--a bill that would have been footed solely by students, and hopefully now student leaders will really attempt to define their roles. And it doesn't hurt anything that Idaho Yesterday received $1300.

My decision to resign is just that--mine. And I don't feel I need to justify it. But for what it's worth, my number priority right now is the Stallings Collection. In one year it will open for researchers and every last day of that time is needed to establish this collection as the wonderful source of Idaho history material that it is. Time is something I've been short of and leaving the Senate will afford me time to take a class I really have wanted to take and will allow me to concentrate on the Stallings papers.

Last January I was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Senate and then campaigned for the seat. My sincere hope is that my exit now will allow another student to have the same wonderful opportunity I have had.

I don't regret my decision to resign at all and my feeling on this particular resignation can best be illustrated by Ambrose Bierce from The Devil's Dictionary:

RESIGN, v. To renounce an honor for an advantage. To renounce an advantage for a greater advantage.


Darryl said...

... you had me at Ambrose Bierce...

Tara A. Rowe said...

Glad to know someone can appreciate my love for Mr. Bierce!