If you’ve never been to a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting, I recommend you change that next Tuesday, Dec. 4. SGA is considering eliminating the ability of Student Grant Fund (SGF) to give advance funds to students. Currently, any student or group of students who receive SGF funds can either request an advance, reimbursement or a combination of both.
For example, last March, four other students and I received SGF funding for a trip to a professional journalism conference in Iowa. The two hotel rooms for all five of us cost a couple hundred dollars. We needed to pay for the rooms upfront. But none of us were financially able to pay the hotel that much money upfront then wait a couple weeks for a reimbursement. Instead, SGA granted us an advance. Without the help of SGF, the five of us wouldn’t have been able to attend that conference.
The possible change to SGF will prevent many students from taking part in opportunities, like the conference I attended, due to a lack of funds. SGA should keep this in mind and vote against ending SGF advances. SGA is considering changing this in an attempt to prevent losing money. A couple times this semester, students dropped out of a trip last minute after SGA had already issued an advance, which meant SGA lost money. SGA had potential changes to SGF on the agenda at its Nov. 20 meeting.
However, this important issue was last on the agenda. SGA listed the issue after SGA executive and adviser updates and programming pool requests. SGA Vice President Chris Whitmore had to table discussion of SGF because there wasn’t enough time to fully discuss the issue. SGA board members should make SGF discussion a higher priority during SGA’s next meeting. Students: be part of the discussion about SGF. Let the SGA senator of your school know your position on the issue.
Most importantly, be present. Please attend SGA’s next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. in Sunnen Lounge. When SGA gives time for open forum, stand up and speak up. This is government — or at least it’s supposed to be. SGA representatives are supposed to be your voice. They are supposed to vote with you in mind. All involved, keep that in mind while making this decision. Also, think this decision through. Recognize whom this decision affects and how it affects them.
Read over SGA’s constitution and understand your purpose as a member of its board. The preamble to SGA’s constitution states: “We the students of Webster University, in order to improve the quality of student life, establish this Constitution. … In all pursuits the Student Government Association will strive to preserve a meeting ground of peace and education in which all may prosper.” What SGA does influences this campus, not just members of SGA. Students need to take part in student government and pay attention to what SGA does. In order to do this, SGA will have to step up as well. Before students can contact their school senators and discuss SGF, they will have to know who their senator is.
Students: demand more from your SGA. Money from your student activity fee supports decisions SGA makes. Attend SGA’s meeting and read The Journal to keep up with SGA’s decision on SGF. In last week’s issue of The Journal, the article “SGA reviews SGF policy” quoted Sergeant-at-Arms Chris Hawk’s response to a student’s concerns regarding SGF changes at SGA’s Nov. 20 meeting. “If you pack this place with students with the same grievance and they fill this room to tell us that, I’ll vote against it,” Hawk said at the meeting. “I’ll say that here and now. If you show me this is a problem and this change is a problem, then I’ll vote against, because I’m a student advocate first.” You heard him, students. Now show him. Editors’ note: The Journal does not receive any funding from SGA.