Since 2008 full-time employees of Missouri Western have gone three consecutive years across the board without a pay increase, until now. During the June Board of Governors meeting, the group approved of a 2 percent salary increase for full-time faculty and staff. If you can recall last year Missouri Western was cut by 8.2 percent in state allocations for higher education. Western is one of the lowest funded universities in the state of Missouri and was hit the hardest. This editorial is not to point a finger at who is to blame for the cut in funding, but to thank the Board of Governors, and President Vartabedian for finding a little extra funding to help the employees who work tirelessly for this institution. This editorial is also to let them know that there is still more that needs to be done. Vartabedian said that those who will benefit from the pay increase are all personnel, faculty, staff and administrators who have been employed by the university since March 31, 2012. So the rumors about students getting pay increases are a myth. Vartabedian said students fall in a different category since they are paid an hourly wage. Although many students support the idea that educators deserve a pay increase, students might also question the increase is coming directly from their own pockets. However, Vartabedian explains that it is not-at least not directly. Vartabedian says it’s a combination from student success fees that come from the Student Success Act, this year’s tuition increase of 3.22 percent and state appropriations. We feel its great that the university was able to find a way to give a little something to the employees, as some have been working here for years and have had no pay increase since the day they started. Though a 2 percent increase will help the personnel, faculty, staff and administrators who have been employed since March 31, that percent really doesn’t make a real difference in their salaries. For example if a professor makes around $50,000 a year, with the 2% increase they would only make an extra $1000. So does this really benefit an employee receiving this increase? The answer is both yes and no. Not everyone will agree; some will be thankful for the little extra cash and others will think it isn’t enough. Vartabedian agrees that the 2 percent increase is not enough and feels the frustration of those who believe it needs to be more. So to those who received the extra 2 percent increase to your salary, be thankful. We are in one of the worst economic times since the great depression and you never know when another increase will come again. Though we and Vartabedian both wish the increase could be more, at least it’s a start.
On Monday the student senate will most likely pass a $75 fee for students each semester. Don’t be surprised. SGA has held numerous forums that all students were invited to. Wait, you didn’t get those emails? Well, that’s because there weren’t any. The act of sending out an email may be one of the easiest things to do on a computer. SGA has the ability to send out emails to all students, as documented by a March 21 email sent out to students asking for applicants for SGA scholarships. Furthermore, the legislation hasn’t been made publically available online for students to review. Unless you went to the meetings that you weren’t notified about, chances are you don’t know why SGA is proposing this fee. There’s a certain air of arrogance in senate. The Griffon News has heard comparisons of this fee to federal taxes, where SGA is equating their power to that of the U.S. congress. Additionally, the reason SGA refuses to let students vote on this fee is because they don’t think the students will do the right thing. These are excuses. A $75 fee is the single most powerful thing SGA has done in years. Their own fee is only $50 per semester for a full time student. As a government official, you can see the appeal to wanting to push this through without the students’ input. Besides failing to inform, educate and convince students that they believe there is a need for the fee, they have also field to account for all the facts. Next year’s state appropriations are not set in stone. As a matter of fact, legislators are currently working to get the money back to the university’s in their own budget proposal. SGA’s plan doesn’t have that contingency. Senate could very well pass the fee, then the state legislature and Gov. Nixon could restore funding to the universities, and there would no longer be a need for this fee and students would be paying an extra $75 regardless. This isn’t about a need for the fee. This isn’t even about Western’s dwindling funding. This is about SGA squelching your voice and your vote. Circumventing the students on such an important issue says that SGA doesn’t care what you have to say or think, that they know what’s best for you and you don’t. There is hope though. Fortunately, the SGA constitution allows you to take control back. A petition by 10% of the student body (roughly 620 signatures) would force SGA to put the legislation on a ballot. The Griffon News will not take a stance for or against the legislation, but we are taking a stance for your right to be heard. If the petition is successful, SGA officials claim that there won't be enough time to set up a special ballot. Make the time. If SGA had planned to let the students vote on the fee from the the beginning, this wouldn't be an issue. For more information on the petition, students should contact Barry Hersh (email@example.com). Also, attending the Monday night meeting would force SGA to realize that students want an entire student body vote.
At press time, the new SGA president had not yet been elected. The man elected doesn’t matter, however; the issues before the new president are the same. The following letter to the president outlines some of those issues. Dear Mr. President, The first issue of your administration may be the student fee issue. Even if the present administration facilitates its passage by student vote or senate vote, your administration will be left to deal with the aftermath. This could mean more student activism on campus and higher attendance at SGA-sponsored events. The fee could also mean increased scrutiny and resentment from students, who could turn against the efforts of SGA and boycott all student services or activities. While this student-approved fee issue will be decided before you take office, it is only the first of a long line of budget-related issues facing our university in the future. The present SGA administration is not going to get all the credit or blame; how you handle the cuts to Missouri Western’s budget will be a part of your legacy. Your administration also has the opportunity to put the smoking ban to bed forever or to change the habits of many of Western’s students. This issue has been brought up many times, and students have always voted to keep our campus free for smokers. The issue is volatile with students on both sides. A declaration needs to be made about the position SGA is taking now and will take in the future. You cannot make everyone happy here, and students do not want the same old lip service of “we will do what ever the students want.” Since students have voted down the ban once, it is only fair that it go away for a long time. Another issue that will affect your presidency is the allocation of SGA funds to Student Affairs. The idea that 20 percent of SGA’s budget was constitutionally given to the Student Affairs is not acceptable. However this was done, it needs to be undone. Either we take back the 20 percent, or we take over supervision of how the money is used. During our coverage of the presidential campaigns, we have heard the complaint that members of SGA are not active enough participants in on-campus activities. We encourage you, the members of your executive board and your senators to attend as many campus events as possible. Yes, you are even busier than the average full-time traditional student, but making time to support your constituents' leaders is just as important as any other decisions you make in office. The position of student body president is an important one, full of pressure, influence and rewards. We wish you the best of luck. We will be watching, reporting and commenting on everything you do to keep students informed. Sincerely, The Griffon News
The Griffon News does not endorse any candidate in the 2012 SGA election. Instead, we want you to read our front page and make an informed decision about who you are going to vote for. You may not think you care, and you may not think that this election matters, but, in actuality, it does. The winner of this election will lead an organization that manages half a million dollars of your money. In addition to how much money SGA has, the elected official will also represent us in front of administration and to the community. While you may have heard their motto before, they are the voice of the student body. If this person is in charge of how your voice is bellowed, shouldn’t you at least know who they are and what they stand for? The President of SGA is a spearhead of new policy and innovative ideas for the student body and SGA. They don’t just represent us to administration, but they will represent us to students at our university and others. The SGA President should be the best of the best of us. They shouldn’t just have a high GPA and be involved with lots of extracurricular activities. They should also know the students and be plugged into the network of the student body. While managing the Association itself is an important part of the President’s job, interacting with prominent leaders and students on campus is important too. No doubt, the job of SGA president is important and full of serious responsibility. With more turbulent times ahead for Western, SGA and its president will play an even bigger role in the development of the university.
Students will most likely not have a choice or a vote when SGA implements a new fee to make up for Western’s budget shortfall. The fact that some senators say that they know what is best for the students is not only appalling but also insulting. First off, this argument assumes that they are not students, but some being that is above being a student. Secondly, they were elected to listen to the student body, not dictate what we should think and educate us. The vote to decide whether students should pay an additional fee to make up for the budget shortfall should be decided by the students. The decision is too important to be voted on by 18 individuals, most of who were not even elected by the student body. Senators who are afraid of a low voter turnout are simply making excuses. Do they really think that when money is attached students won’t take the time to vote on it? If they don’t vote on it, it’s because they weren’t told about the vote. Sure, one-side of the argument is that Western needs the money. Western is looking at a huge shortfall because of cuts to state appropriations. President Robert Vartabedian has a long list of suffering budgets that need help. With that said, the few should not govern the many. That would be a tyrannical oligarchy. Sure, Congress raises taxes without our consent, but as Griffon News columnist Gary Weidemann said at Monday’s SGA committee meeting, Congress probably isn’t the best example for students to model our senate after. If students are thinking that they have the power to vote in a fee, they're right; they do. But just because they have the power to do something doesn’t make it an action that is representative of the students. Students will lose faith if a fee is voted on by Senate without a student vote as well. This isn’t a matter of taxes or doing what the university needs or even informing students to make the right decision. If the majority of students are against a fee, informed or uninformed, then that is what students have decided. If voted in by SGA solely, the fee would not be a student fee. While in the eyes of the governor it would be, students would see this as an infringement upon their sovereignty as students. If senators honestly believe that a fee would benefit students, they should inform the students of what they think it is right instead of exercising their powers and flexing their arrogance. If it does go up for a student vote, they should be objective and separate themselves from their duty to the ‘university’ and think and vote objectively with the student’s desires in mind.