Self-Governance

Self-governance teaches us the benefits and limitations of a democratic process. There are times when an issue can be properly discussed and thought out with 25 other people, and there are other times when the process and bureaucracy, despite their minimalism and simplicity, can frustrate everybody.

The powers we have as a self-governing body are diverse and far-reaching. Governing our own members means instituting pet policies, taking care of Student Body vehicles, arranging rooming, and enforcing our interpretations of the isolation policy and drug-and-alcohol policy. But there are other matters we decide but that are not by default in our authority to govern. Faculty hiring and student admissions are technically powers of the trustees, who have in turn assigned them to the president. He, in turn, has entrusted these powers to the Student Body.

In the Gray Book, a collection of his letters and writings on Deep Springs, L.L. Nunn addresses the problem of lost tools in the mechanic's shop. He says that though we don't have any explicit authority over how tools should be managed, we can earn an implicit authority over the tools by proving ourselves responsible and mature concerning their management. We lose authority by making rash and immature decisions. This philosophy is implicit in all the business the SB conducts.

Self-governance teaches us responsibility and maturity in our decisions and actions. Without these qualities, the student body could not be entrusted with the powers it has. But on the flipside, by being entrusted with applications and curriculum decisions, we are given good reason to try as hard as we can for these qualities. One characteristic concept is that of "beneficial ownership" of the college. Though we may not have legal rights, our careful consideration of all college issues and decisions to act upon them demonstrate a willingness to run the college and all of its workings as best we can. Successfully being an education of, by, and for the students means it's critically important that we earnestly engage in self-governance, of both the SB and the college, to the best of our capabilities.