Editorial: Time to act on fee is now
February 18, 2013
Be prepared to pay more money for your education next semester—or not.
The Student Success Act, written and passed by SGA in the last month, imposes a new fee on students. The fee stepladders depending on your student status: full-time students will pay $75, part-time students $50 and summer students $25.
SGA has held several meetings to listen to students concerns about the fee. The single most important concern that came out of those open forums was SGA’s mode of passage. Students have voiced concerns about letting Senate alone vote on such an important issue. These concerns fell on deaf ears.
There was even a compromise. Sen. Clifford Petersen proposed an amendment to the bill that would have ended the legislation in three years. One year after passage, students would have the opportunity to vote on the legislation, giving administration two years to prepare for the missing funds.
This compromise was unfortunately shot down. This amendment to the legislation would have pleased students and given SGA enough time to convince students of the need for a fee. Sure, the urgency to fix the budget problem is apparent, but that argument only goes so far. This compromise should have been taken, because now the fee is in jeopardy.
Article XI of the SGA constitution allows the students to force SGA to take an legislation that has been passed to a student vote: “Any legislation passed by SGA or any issue, shall be placed on a ballot before all members of the Association upon securing a petition of at least ten percent (10%) of the members of the Association or two-thirds (2/3) vote of SGA Senate calling for such an election. If the petition or legislation does not specify a special election date then the matter shall be placed on the next general election ballot.
In the event that the said petition is properly executed and presented to the SGA president, the Elections Commission shall place the issue on a ballot before all members of the association for acceptance or rejection by the members of the association at either the next general election of the SGA or in a special election as called for by the Elections Commission.”
The provision will allow students to take back their voice. Why should students sign such a petition when SGA and Western administration says that there is a need for this fee? Because the ends don’t justify the means.
To put it simply, SGA failed in its communication. At current press time, no digital copy of the legislation was posted on the SGA website or emailed to Griffon News staff. During the open discussions, the rough drafts of the legislation were also not posted. Not a single piece of information about this legislation was every promoted or posted. In 2012, that is a failure to communicate. SGA has the means to communicate, they just chose not to. During election time, social media was utilized to promote the election. The Scott/Upton campaign also utilized Twitter and Facebook. After the election, an email was sent out asking students to apply for positions in next year’s administration. If emails don’t garner responses from students then why was this one sent out? A single email was sent out to students about an open forum last Wednesday announcing, “the final reading of the student approved fee proposal.” Now, if you hadn’t gone to that meeting, this probably brought images of an SGA member standing on a soapbox decreeing what their royal—I mean executive—orders are.
Sure, the mouth-to-mouth approach may have been a good idea, but why not attempt all channels of communication? Simply labeling a meeting as “open” doesn’t mean that it’s fair or publicized. The fact is SGA wanted to have low turn out at these meetings. They are, after all, the voice of the students. Why should they listen to students?
It’s not because a new fee is a bad idea that you should sign a petition. It’s because the way it was passed. This won’t be an easy task though. That night, SGA also passed a new bylaw to supplement Article XI. A petition must be gain the signatures within 30 days (so by today it would be 28 days) and adhere to the guidelines in the university handbook. Regardless, students should petition this legislation. Let your voice be heard, not theirs.