Student Government Association assemblies are full of rules and ways to make meetings go smoothly. And although Robert’s Rules of Order are commonly referred to at weekly meetings, apparently SGA’s own constitution gathers dust.
SGA’s Constitution is “only available through [the SGA] listserv” and is “not published on the official SGA website,” according to the constitution itself.
A semester of meetings has resulted in a few observations that lead me to believe that members of the executive board may want to pick up a copy of their own guidelines.
Throughout the nearly four months of meetings, assembly members were—according to Article V, Section 4, Item C—supposed to receive four budget update presentations given by the Vice President of Finance Dan Schramm.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen.
So while representatives approve a budget of more than $700,000 in a year, they actually have no idea how that’s being spent as of now.
SGA President Al Carroll responded to the constitutional oversight, saying, “The constitution is a guideline for the best practices. It’s to let us know what we should be doing. It’s not the United States Constitution. It’s not law.”
If the constitution is to let them know what they should be doing, why aren’t they doing it?
When that section of the constitution was written, Carroll said, “things were done a lot differently.”
He said there is a lag between the financial reports the groups receive and the meetings, saying that they’re just now receiving information from October.
Finding out two months after the fact would still be better than hearing nothing at all.
SGA updates the grant budget every week, Carroll said. This is true.
But grants only make up $36,500 of the more than $700,000 SGA budget. All students have a stake in SGA, because all students contribute money to the organization.
More troubling is the indifference and almost confusion about the constitution and its purpose than the fact that it is not being followed.
A constitution is supposed to serve as a set of rules, not something to follow when you feel like it.
If a constitution—a constitution written, drafted and approved by that organization—can’t hold an organization accountable for its actions, what can?
The information is not accessible to every student. In fact, it didn’t sound as if the president knew exactly what information was available to which people.
“I’m sure all the information that’s available money-wise is updated,” Carroll said. “I know I have access to it. I think most other people do as well.”
Still, the most troubling part is that it seems like SGA’s own president wasn’t aware of the responsibilities delegated to the vice president of finance.
“I think the vice president of finance has a lot of stuff to deal with, and no one’s brought it up,” Carroll said. “I’m sure if someone brought it up, Dan would execute it.”
The statement from the president concerns me. A student in a leadership position should understand the role as outlined by the organization.
During an interview with The Collegian for this week’s issue, it had appeared that someone had actually brought the issue to Schramm’s attention.
Schramm noted that a goal he’s set for next semester is to give a monthly budget update.
I’m looking forward to those changes, since they will keep track of the money SGA controls.
In my time as news editor, never have I once had to have someone else from outside of the organization tell me what my role on the paper is.
Before applying for this position, I took the time to read over what I would be expected to do.
Perhaps SGA executive board members’ roles and responsibilities would be easier to understand if they were outlined in one, singular, governing document—a constitution of sorts.