Clarity and transparency are vital in a governing body. Without those two critical components an organization is endangered.
The Student Government Association is in the midst of rectifying a constitution that has plagued the organization for two years.
The previous Constitution passed by the SGA administration of President Natalie Bailey and Vice President Luke Herrington was passed by a vote of the student body, but eventually was overturned due to a failure to obtain Western administration’s approval.
The current administration of President Harold Callaway III and Vice President Jennifer Kohler has worked throughout their term to refine a constitution after reverting back to a pre-Bailey/Herrington version of the document.
Now, at the close of their term, they are prepared to present their work to the student body…
How many saw it?
Despite the fact that SGA posted the document on their Web site for student review, the association failed to alert the student body that more changes had been made after that point.
Changes that in SGA official’s minds that were insignificant, but should have been left to the students to determine. Students must have the opportunity to examine these changes and it is the responsibility of the SGA to ensure this occurs.
A pivotal issue in this debate is the alteration of titles for officials in the Resident’s Council and Western Activities Council.
For a constitution that has been in the works for two years, the SGA was remiss to wait so long to enact such a big change.
Why wasn’t there a chance for student debate and feedback in that time frame? This is an issue of transparancy.
The Callaway/ Kohler administration emphasized that the decision to make the Residents Council and Western Activity Council president’s title "Vice presidents" and the former vice presidents becoming "Vice chairs" was simply a matter of distinction for the sake of clarity.
Incoming RC president Samy Northcut voiced his opposition to the change citing the confusion this will create for constituents outside of the Western community.
Within the SGA there will only be one president, however there will be three vice presidents. The SGA vice president is elected on a separate ballot than the Vice presidents of WAC and RC, only confusing the matter more. As the senate president, the SGA Vice president title may also be diminished in the process.
However for the everyday student, is this really something that will serve the Western student body, or just SGA?
This is an issue of ensuring that there is no doubt that Western has only one student president. While this is true, how many students care about the legalese of the SGA?
Students care more about the leadership of presiding officers and easily identifying them. Students are not invested in making sure WAC and RC know that they are under the umbrella of SGA’s authority.
Student leadership isn’t always plentiful at Western. Of the 20 available senate positions, only 19 applicants fulfilled the criteria to be put on the ballot. On a commuter campus where students often have jobs, responsibilities and families—not everyone has time to volunteer.
A change like this has the potential to turn off future student leaders to a process so engaged in an internal power struggle of titles.
The situation begs the question; will the change do more to diminish the esteem associated with these roles than it will serve to clarify the hierarchy of SGA to students?Students should be more invested in affairs of Missouri Western’s SGA, but SGA must give those students the tools to do so.
With tough economic times, it is predicted that in the coming years, more and more people will flock to colleges to better their state of living. In his most recent address to Congress, President Barack Obama said, "A good education is no longer a pathway to opportunity. It is a prerequisite." It should be assumed that more and more people will be seeking Missouri Western when it comes to seeking that good education.
We should make sure that as a university we make the right moves to deal with this growth. It can present a number of problems in the quality of learning that the school can offer.
Often all we consider is the quickest possible fix. We create Band-Aids for wounds that won’t heal. When we are already spending so much money on other things, no one really wants[caption id="attachment_1486" align="alignright" width="231" caption="By Marty Ayers and Charlene Divino"][/caption]
to consider building new student housing or hiring new full-time professors. So we seek any other way to cover the problem.
Hiring new tenure-track professors is a no-brainer when you consider the possible coming growth of our university, especially when you consider how much this Chiefs deal could mean to campus recruitment.
If we keep getting bigger, are we just going to increase class size? That will be like shooting off our foot to free ourselves form the line of fire. Many people only go to our school because of the excellent student-to-teacher ratio. Besides, maxing out your professors like that is going to lead to stressed out tenured professors who can’t easily be fired and an ever rotating door of adjuncts who end up taking the money and running the moment they are let free.Right now we are hunting shark out at sea and someone is realizing that, like Roy Scheider’s character in Jaws, "We’re going to need a bigger boat." More students mean more of everything like more technology, more buildings and more employees, and all that costs more money. We are already spending so much. But at times money can come from unexpected places, like the City of St. Joseph kicking in with their latest gift to the Chiefs project. We are going to have to spend money, and hopefully smart money that helps us grow without collapsing on ourselves.