A Brief History of Student Success

The Student Success Act, signed into action in 2012, is a Student Government legislation that outlines a $75 a semester fee for certain student services and a committee to oversee the allocation of funding. The program was initially created to cover a possible cut in state education funding. If a funding cut had been enacted, student services— Esry Health center, Center for Multicultural Education, etc.— would be the first areas from which the Missouri Western would pull funding. However, those state budget cuts never passed the Missouri Governor’s desk and the administration was able to continue funding student services; so, SGA and the Western administration was left with a significant amount of money for which they had no plan. That wasn’t until Jacob Scott, 2012-2013 President of SGA, proposed a program that would use the nearly $500,000 in annual funds to provide additional budgets for student services; but, his proposal included departments like Parking Services, Baker Fitness Center and additional money toward Blum renovations. Scott’s proposal was approved and amended the program one year later, by 2013-2014 President of SGA Katy Sisco, who approved a proposal-based system for SSA. This is the current status of the SSA program, and it allows university departments, students and administrators to draft proposals for what they would like done with the fee money. In previous years, SSA funding has gone to projects such as funding for Blum renovations. Last year, money was allocated to partially fund Looney pool renovations.

Students to vote on SGA constitutional change

Missouri Western students will be voting on a constitutional change to the SGA Constitution on April 13-14. After SGA approved Senate Bill FY16-64 unanimously on Monday, April 4 at SGA’s weekly meeting, the measure now goes to MWSU’s student body for a final vote. The proposed change would create tiers in the SGA Executive Board and allow for additional positions to be added executive board positions, such as an SGA secretary and director of public relations position. SGA Executive Vice President Brad Stanton said that it would not be a major change to the way SGA currently operates, but just allow for executive board tiers for positions to fit into. “So, functionally to the student, it doesn’t change anything,” Stanton said. “It just let us set up tiers, so if we add or remove positions in the future, we have tiers to slot those positions into.” SGA President-Elect Alec Guy said that if the constitutional change was approved by the students, it would benefit his SGA administration and the students they represent. “I personally think it’s going to be great for the administration,” Guy said. “This just kind of simplifies things and I think it will be very beneficial for SGA because we can actually stay more focused and we can do more to get the word out to students. I think ultimately it will benefit students because more will get done. We’ll be able to communicate better with students with a chair based solely on PR. I think in the long run, it’ll be a lot better for SGA.” Students will be able to vote on the constitutional change online via SGA’s website on April 13 and 14.

SGA debates new SSA proposal

Missouri Western’s student government debated a proposed Student Success Act budget in their meeting on April 4. The newest SSA proposal is the seventh to be created by the committee and would largely spend the estimated $520,000 of student fee money to help fund student services and help save Missouri Western money an estimated $195,560. The SSA fee money would save MWSU money by going toward funding the student labor and operational costs associated with facilities like Esry Health Center, Center for Student Involvement, Center for Multicultural Engagement and the Center for Academic Support, along with several others, thus easing that financial burden of Missouri Western. However, the university would still be paying for the personal, fringe benefits and travel expenses associated with the facilities that would be receive money from this new proposal. The proposal would also reduce the need for a SSA fee advisory committee to meet each year since the set amount of money given to each facility under this proposal would be used for multiple years. These figures would be revised every three to five years. Additionally, any excess money collected over the years would be set aside in a reserve account that would also be reallocated after several years. SGA President-Elect Alec Guy, who sits on the SSA committee, said that the proposal reflected a compromise between student needs and administrative goals. “There has to be some kind of compromise and that’s why I’m in favor of this,” Guy said, “because I think if we each dig our heels in and say we want to spend the money a certain way but then the administration doesn’t agree, then well, maybe nothing gets done and that money just sits there. I think that this is a good compromise and ultimately the students are going to be the benefactors.” The benefits of the proposal outweigh the costs, Guy said, because the money that Missouri Western saves would go toward the Master Plan which would help improve buildings used by students. Additionally, the money SGA saves in not having to fund student services would be used to help fund student organizations. Not everyone at the SGA meeting agreed with the proposal. In the discussion of the proposal, several senators expressed concerns about the budget. Executive Vice President Brad Stanton was one of those who did not support the proposal. “First off, I don’t I feel like it’s student’s job to save the administration $200,000 like what’s happening under SSA,” Stanton said. “This gives a raise to Student Affairs, but it gives a raise to Student Affairs on the backs of the students. This isn’t the university saying we support Student Affairs more; this is students have to spend more of their money to give Student Affairs departments more money and I don’t think that that’s fair.” Overall, the proposal has not be approved yet by either the SSA committee or the SGA Senate, both of which need to approve of the allocation before ultimately being signed by university President Robert Vartabedian. After more discussion on the proposal, it may come to a vote in the near future.

SGA proposes changes to its structure

Students may soon be voting on proposed changes to the structure of their student government. On Monday, March 28, legislation was proposed that would make several changes to SGA, including the introduction of new positions and how it operates. The first of these proposed changes is Senate Bill FY16-64, which was first read at Monday’s meeting and would amend the current SGA constitution to create tiers for SGA positions. Another piece of legislation, SB FY16-66, serves to clarify executive board job responsibilities in SGA Policy. SB FY16-66 also specifies how much each executive board position is required to work each week, SGA Vice-President Brad Stanton said. “The tiers are basically the salary tiers,” Stanton said. “It’s basically the amount of office hours. There is the President’s tier with 20 hours and the Vice President at 15 hours a week. There is the appointed director’s tier, which is 8 hours a week. We then created a new appointed assistant director, which is five hours a week. And then SGA staff is the term right now for SGA secretary, which is three hours a week.” There would be a shift in how SGA Executive Board members get paid. Currently, executive board members receive scholarships for their work. This legislation, however, would change their pay to a $9 hourly wage. This was meant to address some of the issues with scholarships, Stanton said. “Currently, we have people who work really hard that can’t get paid to do SGA positions because the way that financial aid works and the direct cost rule the university has. You can only get university scholarships up to tuition,” Stanton said. “You can’t get reimbursed. So, the SGA scholarship that you get on SGA counts as a university scholarship. So, people like me work 15 hours a week, but I don’t get all my money back because it’s a university scholarship. But if you get paid, you’re going to get that money.” While the creation of new jobs will add some increase to the executive board budget costs, some of the positions will be making less money than they currently do. “Most people are making like $20 less than what they’re actually making as a scholarship,” Stanton said. “It’s not like we think that we’re worth more than minimum wage.” One of those new positions being proposed, SGA secretary, would basically divide up the current job responsibilities of the current Director of Communications. “The Secretary will be really nice,” Stanton said. “Our director of communication really works two jobs. He’s a secretary as well as being a PR person. This job is separated very nicely into a secretary and a director of PR.” Another position being created is the assistant director for external relations. This, Stanton said, was thought of to address issues that SGA does not currently do with regard with legislation from the Missouri General Assembly. “Every year we go Great Northwest Days, which is a visit to the Missouri Legislature, and this year we kind of realized that there’s a lot of ways SGA could affect higher education legislation and legislation at the Missouri House,” Stanton said. “So, we feel like having a person to work on external relations with things like that and the St. Joe Chamber of Commerce could be something that gives us more students, more funding, more sponsorships and things like that, so it would be good for MWSU and SGA.” The last piece of legislation introduced was SB FY16-68 which would create new, smaller committees for various aspects of SGA’s work. This would give the committees more of a focus, said Sen. Haden McDonald. “The changes were made to give the communities more structure and make them [have] a defined goal,” McDonald said. “Right now, we have two committees that have very broad topics.” It is planned for these pieces of legislation to be voted on at the next SGA meeting on April 4. All discussed legislation requires a 2/3 vote in order to pass the Senate. If SB FY16-64 regarding the creation of SGA tiers is passed, it then goes before a student vote on April 13-14 for final approval. All other pieces of legislation discussed will not being going to a student vote since they do not change the SGA constitution. They will only be voted on by SGA.

SGA Week

The Student Government Association hosted SGA Week from March 7 to 11 in an effort to educate the study body about their government. Ida Haefner, president of SGA, and Brad Stanton, executive vice president of SGA both said that it is a time for students to get to know SGA, what it means and why it’s here for them. Jessica Frogge, the administrative coordinator for SGA, said the event was an opportunity for students to meet SGA representatives. “SGA Week is a week that is intended to get the SGA out with the students and explain to them what SGA is and what it’s about,” Frogge said. Frogge also said that the Students of SGA are in charge of the event. “It's pretty much put on the senators and the e-board to be the ones to facilitate everything for SGA week, because those are the people that are out telling people about SGA and inviting them to our weekly meetings," Frogge said. "They’re the best ones to explain what SGA does, what SGA has done and what SGA has in progress and what SGA can do.” This SGA week included events such as Pie-a-Politician on Monday, Karaoke Night on Tuesday, Kickball/Dodgeball on Wednesday, Capture the Flag on Thursday and ended with the Lunch with Senators on Friday. Frogge said the amount of fun events was due to scheduling problems. “This year we started planning a little late, so we ended up having to move it back a week. Because of this, they kind of filled it with more fun events rather than political events," Frogge said. About $3,500 was budgeted for the week but Stanton said that there was no way that they spent that full amount. He said around $2000 was spent and most of it was on t-shirts that were given away. Unfortunately, the turnout wasn’t near as great as everyone had hoped. Monday’s Pie-a-Senator event ended with the Senators just throwing pies at each other, due to the fact that no one showed up. Nonetheless, the Senators still made the best out of the situation and didn’t let pies go to waste. According to Haefner, this year's turnout was still more than last year, which she said may have been caused by a lack of advertising. “I would definitely go for more advertising for next year. We’ve been a little late getting the word out there. These kind of things sneak up on us, which shouldn’t happen. We need to plan way more in advance, like months versus weeks,"  Haefner said. Frogge said the event may be better scheduled to coincide with SGA elections. “I would prefer that SGA week be during elections week. I think that would be the perfect time for SGA to really get out there and understand the elections and get to know who their candidates are,” Frogge said.