There are few issues that arise at Webster University which elicit a public stance from The Journal’s editorial staff. The current Student Grant Fund (SGF) controversy surrounding Student Government Association (SGA) has become one of those issues. Though SGA has found a way around eliminating student advances for education-related trips through the SGF, the entire fiasco has surfaced an inherent problem within SGA as a whole.
Although it was a good idea to keep advances in place, The Journal believes it is imprudent to celebrate the avoidance of irritating a large majority of the highly-involved portion of the student population. Finding a solution to the fiscal problems SGA faced was important, but not necessarily a victory considering the problems were just as much internal as they were external. The Journal reported that the initial reason SGA wanted to cut SGF advances stemmed from student organizations and individuals tendency to back out of trips SGA had already paid for through advances.
SGA was one of those groups. The Journal also believes SGA is encountering these types of problems because SGA is too focused on financial matters such as student organization budgets and the process of handing out money through SGF and Programming Pool. Student government’s role, at any university, is to represent the student body for purposes of student advocacy and not to act solely as a student bank.
Because of the time commitment SGA’s financial matters require, it seems there is not much time left to give to student advocacy. Of course, there is always Delegates’ Agenda, but this only happens once a semester and produces more Powerpoint presentations than results. Additionally, Delegates’ Agenda, although associated with SGA, could exist intact without the existence of SGA, as it is not fully dependent on the existing structure of SGA or the execution of SGA’s actions.
Even with Delegates’ Agenda, many problems students are passionate about changing fall on deaf ears as the advisors to Delegates’ Agenda prevent recurring issues from being presented on. If these issues were presented in the past, then clearly the problems have not been addressed by the administration, the master plan or by any other means, and nothing changed. As a result of all these factors, there is not a permanent, adequate and all-inclusive vehicle for student advocacy. The attitude and actions of Delegates’ Agenda should occur throughout the entire year.
That is not a suggestion of having Delegates’ Agenda-styled presentations occur more often, but rather constant communication from students to SGA and from SGA to the administration about what the students’ problems are. It’s time SGA stops bogging itself down with financial issues and start doing what many other student governments around the country already do.
No process is perfect, but everything can be improved upon. SGA is one of the most important student organizations on campus and for this reason The Journal holds them to very high standards in the same way that they should hold The Journal to high standards. For the sake of the students at Webster University, The we hope SGA lives up to its potential and becomes a more effective and successful organization.