With Student Government Association elections around the corner, students and alumni reflected on SGA’s current administration and their experiences with the organization in years past.
While student leaders affiliated with SGA maintain the organization is acting in the best interests of the students and is headed in the right direction, some students would like to see improvement in transparency and accountability.
Dan Schramm, the vice president of finance for SGA, said SGA made progress this year by spending just under half of SGA’s budget through the first semester.
“Now that we have a sense of where we are in the budget so far, it’s given us motivation to be able to pick up programming and do more with the confidence that we’ll be able to afford it,” Schramm said.
Part of that programming included the Butler University Dance Marathon that occurred during the second weekend of this spring semester. Lauren Pedigo, vice president of public relations for SGA, declared the event a huge success because of the $108,000 it raised.
Pedigo said the dance marathon exemplifies the way in which SGA wishes to use student’s money for things students will enjoy.
“It’s students’ money, and it should go back to the students,” Pedigo said.
Chris Beaman, the senior class president, said total transparency within SGA is a real concern and that he hoped for a better understanding of exactly which things different organizations were spending the student body’s money on.
“It’s not going to happen while I’m at school,” Beaman said. “But I do have hope because I believe that there are people with the same goal in mind at SGA working for students.”
Jon Himes, the vice president of programming for SGA, said increasing student awareness about what SGA does would help thwart a perceived lack of transparency on the part of SGA. Himes spoke of a recent partnership his programming board has made with the public relations board within SGA.
“We decided to create this 15-minute window at the end of our meetings, to the beginning of their (public relations board) meetings, where their members collaborate with our members,” Himes said.
Despite such efforts of increased awareness on campus, Natalie Roth, a junior public relations and advertising major, said that SGA could be doing a better job.
“The biggest thing is keeping upperclassmen involved,” Roth said. “As a junior and commuter student, it is very easy to kind of fade away from what’s going on on campus.”
Ginger Lippert, former SGA president and graduate of the class of 2004, said via email that during her time as an undergraduate, it was difficult to engage different people to become involved with SGA.
“I think SGA’s main weakness was that we actively involved the same people in our meetings, events and boards,” Lippert said. “We had strong participation, but it would have been nice to engage a larger portion of the student body in leadership positions and events.”
Former SGA presidential candidate and 2011 graduate Whittney Murphy said she recognized that student involvement within SGA has been an ongoing problem that SGA routinely works to improve.
“A lot of times at meetings, it was evident that people were afraid to say the wrong thing or speak out of turn, especially freshmen,” Murphy said. “SGA has done a good job of educating its members about Robert’s Rules of Order, who can speak when, and now meetings really move
Murphy said that she has higher expectations for SGA as its meetings become a more open forum for all students to speak.
“I hope it will be a body where people bring issues, rather than a money pot where people come to get money,” Murphy said.
Anna Roueche, former SGA presidential candidate and current student affairs coordinator for the Council on Presidential Affairs, is one student who is open to discussing the issues that she thinks currently affect SGA.
Roueche, who lost to Carroll in the presidential race last spring, said that some of Carroll’s behavior reflects negatively on the rest of SGA. Roueche said this was made clear at the recent town
hall meeting with President Jim Danko.
“Al came but left halfway through,” Roueche said. “A lot (of) people sacrificed their time to be there including the president and several VPs, and when the head of the student government walks out, it reflects poorly on him and all of SGA.”
Students will have the opportunity to address issues at SGA later this month in the upcoming student elections.
In the meantime, Himes said one event that could draw students like Roth back to on-campus events is the upcoming concert that is being planned by SGA.
As to who’s performing?
“Wish I could tell you,” Himes said. “I can tell you it’ll be a good concert. I’m excited.”