No room for bias in UCF’s SGA
Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Updated: Thursday, June 7, 2012 12:06
With control of nearly $19 million from student fees, UCF’s Student Government Association is undoubtedly one of the most influential organizations on campus, but with its track record as of late, this might not be a positive thing. SGA has recently come under some scrutiny for its handling of funding allocations. A prominent example of this is the executive order issued to the Mobile Innovation Club, which was first denied funding and then had its registration withdrawn by former SGA President Matthew McCann on his last day in office. There was little basis for these proceedings, and McCann’s actions seem to be predicated on personal bias, which should never happen in a student-run organization like SGA that stands to serve the entire student body. Unfortunately, cases like this are not isolated incidents. A funding request by the Greek Council to finance the Greek Life Book was passed at 100 percent, while the majority of other bills and requests are normally granted at 60-65 percent, Financial Allocations for Organizations chair Kevin Gay said.
“It’s the only organization I’ve seen funded at 100 percent," Gay said. “I don’t think it’s right in the sense that we require every other organization to fundraise; I don’t think any special allowances should be made. It’s a fundamental rule that applies to everyone else, and it was strange the way it went down.”
The Greek Life Book has always received 100 percent of its funding from Senate; most recently, the Greek Council was given $6,000 to print 5,000 copies of the book. Although Greek Council is unable to fundraise due to the structure of its constitution, it is an injustice to allow such prominent favoritism.
Not only do situations like this support the claim that there are biases within SGA, but Senate productivity is lacking as well. There has been a significant drop-off in the productivity of the 44th Senate when compared to recent years.
“This Senate … has been one of the worst senates, one of the worst legislatures, in our history of our student government,” SGA President Cortez Whatley said during the final presidential debate.
Since October, Senate has passed fewer than 25 bills, which is less than half of the number of bills passed by the 43rd Senate, which passed more than 50 bills. Gay confirmed that bills have been vetoed inconsistently “over what I would call extremely small things … things that were immaterial to the substance of the bill. Bills that were literally eight cents off, or one date in the bill was incorrect, things like that.”
When bills are brought to the floor, many of them have typos and errors, some of which are corrected but often times these mistakes slip through the cracks because the senators would rather rush to vote after only a few minutes of debate than properly scrutinize the bills. Many of the senators even pack up their belongings and head toward the door before final roll call is finished.
This type of behavior is a disservice to the student body. Bills that are vetoed over such infinitesimal components may have potentially done good things for important registered student organizations that would make a difference with these funds but unfortunately never got the chance.
There is simply no room for this type of favoritism in a student-run government that determines so much for RSOs, especially when it comes to finances. Students who are involved in campus organizations need to realize that the exclusion of funding for this club or the vetoing of a bill based on these inconsistent “standards” may affect their club one day, and it is immensely unfair. Students should have a vested interest in SGA’s actions and should feel empowered to attend Senate meetings, which are held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every other week during the summer in the Student Union Key West Ballroom.
This type of behavior reflects government on a larger scale. State and federal governments make decisions that affect people’s lives in a very real way, and this is where it starts. SGA sets a precedent for those who choose to participate in a larger political arena someday. Until these types of oversights are handled with more scrutiny, faculty should be more involved in the actions of SGA. As Voltaire stated, “With great power comes great responsibility,” which is something that UCF’s student government currently lacks.
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