Constitutional DisappointmentBy Sean McGrady • Mar 12th, 2009 • Category: Opinion
There is a problem underlying all problems within our SGA, one which acts as Hydra’s body. The problem is simple but potent: our government confuses its projects with mandatory procedure and ordinary acts of kindness, and then receives payment for it.
The SGA Constitution in Article II, C commands the SGA
“To act as a channel of communication and cooperation between the students, faculty, and administration concerning the opinions and attitudes of the student body in order to achieve mutual agreement toward the betterment of the college.”
Article IV, section B4c further dictates the senate “to keep [the] student body informed through their representatives.” These mandates are clearly avoided. Our government possesses no progress board, inadequate frequency for town hall meetings and only updates their website with minutes– morsels of information oblivious to unfamiliar readers. Weekly interviews with students exist but only within the lounge for a goal of 15-30 people.
While the SGA has dispensed a survey concerning students’ preferred methods of finding SGA related information, the survey represents the aforementioned confusion. It reveals a desire to skip utilizing every possible venue of communication by focusing on a few of them, and the fact it possesses the concern of a project proves our SGA has confused requisites with long-term work. A survey can not compare in place of practicing all advertising methods. Holding town hall meetings is also considered a project, along with student interviews, things which directly qualify as mandatory methods of keeping “the student body informed through their representatives.”
One may argue creating methods of communication is a worthy long-term project. However, that argument loses strength when considering the effort required in communicating. If you sit and write information already known, such as the SGA’s projects’ progress, it will not take a hefty amount of time. Something akin to Jake has completed so-and-so or Jasmine has not had a chance to do this is fine. The only real concern is locating places to post the reports, which would not take elaborate planning to discover or create. Concerning town hall meetings, if you infrequently commence them, there is not enough work or affect involved to claim it as a project. The low caliber of student interviews is self-evident.
Our SGA’s insubordination continues in Article IV, section B4h. It orders the senate “To sponsor social functions.” Our SGA’s ability to sponsor is questionable using a current budget of $200. Because of an absent cafeteria, swindling someone’s wallet with higher prices on lower quality food becomes a more accessible reality and a better fundraiser. Although, funds built from Little Caesar’s pizza sales and BBQ cookouts will not provide sufficient influence to help finance a broad base of clubs, contribute to lowering vending prices or encourage fixing broken water fountains. The currency which could bring those changes is silently tucked into the SGA’s pocket: they will receive up to $6,500 in tuition reimbursement this semester for activities mentioned above. Instead of pouring those thousands into a pot for projects, each dollar is spilled into the SGA’s wallet as though they were a real government. The complete reimbursements are not held within the SGA’s current budget, but Ben Kramer guarantees them.
This article in no way discounts kindness the SGA shows to students. Its members gladly participate in blood drives, food sales, occasionally giving free food, helping students sign for classes, disposing trash around NRCC and other gratuitous acts. Though when these actions are properly evaluated, they are Good Samaritan acts and hardly distinguishable from non-elected students donating to a community. This is why students consider their leaders’ devotion to student activities a mere part of the status quo. Unless each SGA member pursues a worthy project, an assignment conceivable through the prestige and power of being a government official, they are merely Campus Care Bears which receive inappropriate payment.
This article also recognizes appropriate projects. Returning VA21, a group whose lobbying gives colleges lower book prices, is an outstanding example of worthy, frugal assignments. Creating a shuttle to travel between NRCC’s main campus and its mall site, should it ever be approached with utmost celerity, is another good illustration. A Relay for Life, too, is familiar with the executive requirement “to supplement the instructional programs (classes) by providing a variety of meaningful, educational, cultural, and social experiences for both the day and night students” in Bylaw Section 1, E3, though a senator conducts it. Pursuing a program to help students in middle college also suggests long-term worth.
The fact remains, regardless of the four projects well mentioned, that any good our SGA can do is overshadowed by its failure to rise above the status quo. I liken it to a eunuch. He might occasionally bring joy, but he’ll never produce anything.