Angela is a senator for the sophomore class on her student government. Tonight, the student senate is approving several large funding requests for campus organizations. Angela’s best friend, Emily, is the president of the Hawaiian cultural club, which is asking for funding for their annual luau. Because Emily talks about it so much, Angela knows the event is very well-planned, and she’s excited to go. It is a popular event on campus, and is a big hit with the student body. Emily told Angela that the event has been streamlined as much as possible to save money, and if it doesn’t receive the large sum it requests, they will have to cut important aspects of the experience. In order to give the Hawaiian club the money it requests, one of the other requesting organizations will have to receive less than they’re asking for, and possibly have to eliminate parts of their own events.
Angela wonders if she should recuse herself from the vote. Her personal relationship with Emily means she knows and cares much more about that program. She feels more confident about voting to give it more funding, even at the expense of other organizations. At the meeting tonight, a nasty flu has prevented many senators from attending, and if Angela recuses herself, there won’t be a quorum. The Senate will have to delay the vote until a later meeting, which would be aggravating for everyone. Angela wonders if her possible conflict of interest is worth delaying the vote.
What would you do if you were in Angela’s position? Do you think she has a conflict of interest? If this were you or one of your peers, what would you do? Does your student government have any guidelines for conflict of interest concerns?