Next week, students across campus will be voting in the Student Government Association election.
In years past, student turnout for elections has been dismal – only 6.3 percent of the student body voted last year, including graduate students, according to a Gatepost article from April 2017.
We strongly encourage students to participate in the election, as the new SGA senate and eBoard will be representing all students for the upcoming academic year. We at The Gatepost traditionally offer advice to the upcoming SGA eBoard and would like to do so again this year.
While we commend SGA for some of the projects it has undertaken in the past year, we hope the upcoming eBoard works to become more inclusive in its representation of the student body – both through membership and decision-making.
There is a perception among students that SGA has simply become a bank doling out funds for niche events that are poorly attended in relation to their costs.
But SGA is supposed to be much more than that. At it’s best, SGA works as a collective unit of strong advocates for the roughly 5,000 students who attend this University.
When a senator casts a vote, they cast it not only for themselves, but for all FSU students – the commuters, the graduate students, the students with limited mobility, the students with children waiting for them at home, the veterans and the first-generation students.
To successfully represent those students and all others, SGA’s next eBoard should be championing efforts to get more non-traditional students involved in the organization. We believe SGA should increase their recruitment efforts beyond the scope of undergraduate students who live on campus.
SGA senators should make themselves available to their peers to learn about the needs of students campus wide. The office hours mandated for every senator are not well publicized enough to be effective. Because senators are the primary participants in open forum, they should be bringing concerns from others to the floor, not just issues of their own.
Open forum is supposed to be a time for all students to discuss concerns. As such, SGA should be held in a space that is more conducive to real discussion. The Alumni Room is set up with just enough chairs for the senators and one representative from The Gatepost.
Another way to facilitate an open dialogue among students would be to make the agendas for SGA meetings available to all students before the meetings are held so those who feel strongly regarding an item can attend open forum.
If the intent is for all students to be using “Hooves, Horns, and Headaches” to simply have their concerns read out loud and not discussed with them, SGA senators should be required to use the platform as well.
While allocating SATF money, SGA members should remain cognizant of the fact that, to many students, the $70 activity fee per semester is a lot of money. These funds should not be spent frivolously simply because there appears to be so much of it. Senators should think critically about each funding request, asking pertinent and respectful questions as necessary while keeping in mind what each club has spent previously and what SGA, as a whole, has spent.
SGA members have recently, when allocating money, said it is their role to be the voice for the students and, the argument goes, that means allocating money for what they perceive to be student needs.
But the SATF is not SGA’s voice.
Student funds are not SGA’s voice.
SGA senators should be the voice.
According to the SGA constitution, its mission is “to advocate on behalf of the student body, to uphold the ideals of a democratic society, and to foster student growth through community and leadership opportunities.”
We hope SGA’s next eBoard takes its own constitution to heart.