Student government “representing” student needs

I have been a member of the Student Government Association since my first week of freshman year. In the nearly four years I have been a part of this group, I have never seen a senate like the one we have now.

As a senate, the individual members are supposed to think of commuter students, residential students, non-traditional students, exchange students and so many more when allocating funds and making decisions. However, most importantly, they are meant to be independent in their decision making, and use the information in front of them as their guide to come to a conclusion.

In this respect, those meant to represent all of us have failed miserably this year.

Since the beginning of this academic year, the people who were supposed to be trusted with allocating the money in the Student Activity Trust Fund that every student pays into, have acted as rubber stamps – approving almost every request that comes before them without much thought.

This has been not only supported, but encouraged by some members of the executive board. A portion of the eBoard almost instructs the senate to vote the way that they want them to vote, and many members go along with whatever they want.

This is not independence, and this is not the proper way to represent the students of this school.

I think this problem is best exemplified by the choice of the senate on the night of April 3. SGA members presented and the senate approved a pilot program to place 10 hand dryers in residence hall bathrooms around campus, excluding West and North halls.

The cost for the test? Seventeen thousand dollars.

Seventeen thousand dollars of student money for 10 hand dryers for a test. Seventeen thousand dollars to solve a problem that can be solved with residents buying a $2 bottle of hand soap and a maybe $5 hand towel or have it be provided for by the RAs who have done so in the past. Commuters and West and North hall resident students pay into this fund and will not have access to these hand dryers unless they get signed into a building.

SGA hopes if the pilot program works well, then the administration will pick up the bill for the rest of the bathrooms. However, if 10 dryers cost $17,000, then the cost for the whole campus will easily be around six figures. In these times of financial constraint, I don’t see the administration picking up the bill for what really is a non-environmentally friendly luxury. They can easily put the bill onto the students, especially since we have already paid for the first steps.

Don’t get me wrong – I think that it would be convenient to have these in the bathrooms, but at what cost to students who are already struggling to get by? Should our fees increase just for the leisure of having these machines?

I believe senators this year have voted based on what they personally want, without thinking about the bigger picture. Some senators, after the divisive vote, said that they voted for the project because members of SGA worked hard on it and they didn’t want it to be for nothing.

Maybe SGA shouldn’t be allowed to vote on their own funding if they cannot be impartial. This is a huge problem that affects every student on campus and must be addressed.

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