On Sep. 19, Student Government Association assembly voted and passed the SGA budget proposal.
This familiar procedure took place in a matter of minutes with little debate or concern raised about where approximately $750,000 would be going.
This all-too-common scenario illustrates an issue that assembly must face—SGA representatives need to take their jobs more seriously.
Student representatives are not in assembly just to warm a chair and keep their organization intact.
They are there to represent students and voice their concerns about campus issues.
By ignoring the power behind their positions, SGA representatives disenfranchise the student body.
“If everybody (in assembly) is quiet about issues, then the students aren’t being represented since their representatives aren’t speaking with them about these issues,” SGA President Mike Keller said.
The apathy displayed by SGA representatives not only silences students’ voices but also misuses students’ money.
Students pay $288 per semester to SGA through activity fees.
So when representatives don’t even spend five minutes discussing the details and provisions of the SGA budget, they more or less have thrown aside $288 of each student’s money.
This flippant attitude is appalling coming from a student organization that is supposed to act as the students’ megaphone to the administration.
Keller notes how the current assembly does not recognize the influence it holds.
“The student representatives don’t realize how much power they have,” Keller said. “If they wanted to, they could have completely defunded the Program Board.”
The SGA executive board has attempted to stir discussion over assembly votes.
From providing background information to representatives before each meeting for each vote to breaking up larger votes—like the budget—into chunks, the executive board has done all it can without forcing itself into the debate.
Executive board members and SGA advisers cannot instigate discussion in assembly meetings.
“I really do appreciate when there is discussion, but if assembly doesn’t feel a need to discuss, then that’s up to them,” SGA Adviser Caroline Huck-Watson said.
This is sensible since forcing assembly conversation would be akin to the United States executive branch breaking into a Senate vote and dictating how to go through the process.
Ultimately, the student representatives alone are responsible for their attentiveness during assembly.
Honestly, no clear solutions exist except for student representatives to accept the role they took on.
Considering significant issues—the Council on Presidential Affairs’ list of proposals and the capital improvement list—are going to be addressed down the line, the student body better hope its representatives shape up soon.
If not, then students can count on a continued lack of progress.