Political Science student responds to Editorial

The staff editorial “Occupy Missouri Western” requires a response, as its muddled mix of misinformation will give readers an inaccurate portrayal of the Occupy movement and grassroots activism in general. Griffons are told that they, as students, “are not part of the 99%.” This alone reveals a fundamental misunderstanding about the Occupy movement, and what it represents. One cannot opt out of being in the 99%, it is a statistical measure. While you may not agree with Occupy sentiments for whatever reason, if you or your family made less than $343,000 per annum since 2009, you are in the bottom 99%. Is it really hard work that guarantees success, anyway? Since 1979, the productivity of the American worker has climbed two-hundred forty percent, while wages have stagnated. New technology alone does not account for that increase. Americans work hard. They work long hours. They do more than ever for virtually the same pay as they did in the 1970s. All the while, the gross domestic product has grown by leaps and bounds. And while our fourteen trillion dollar economy can’t seem to push the median wage over fifty-thousand, the top one percent’s share of the wealth has doubled in the last twenty years. Did every Wall Street executive earn that money with “hard work?” The article also seems to imply that there is a surfeit of activist sentiment on American campuses that must be quelled by cold, hard reality. I wish that were the case. Despite dismal jobs prospects and a collective student loan debt of nearly one trillion dollars, an opinion piece in a campus publication excuses student apathy and the proto-solipsistic worldview that perpetuates the destructive “look out for number one” attitude that we know for certain does not make the world better. This is ultimately unsurprising however. Students and citizens in general throughout this country have been conditioned to believe that mass movements change nothing. On the contrary, mass numbers of ordinary citizens have changed society in the past, and they can do so in the future. Yes, your job is to be a student. Just don’t let anyone tell you that you can only learn in a classroom. Nicholas Brothers Political Science Major, Occupier Missouri Western State University Bibliography Gilson, D. (2011, July/Aug). Overworked America: 12 Charts to Make Your Blood Boil. Mother Jones. http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/06/speedup-americans-working-harder-charts Luhby, T. (2011, Oct. 20). Who are the 1%? CNNMoney. http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/20/news/economy/occupy_wall_street_income/index.htm

Student responds to a letter’s plea for better budgeting

A past edition of the Griffon News featured a letter to the editor from a student that was apparently aggravated with the MWSU administration and SGA over the recent tuition increase. There were three main points to his argument that I feel are in need of a response. The student claimed that MWSU received budget cuts because of hard economic times and that the cut shouldn’t be shrugged off onto the students. He preferred we look at cutting things like beautification projects. For the sake of students feeling better, the author suggested that the increase in tuition be counterbalanced with cuts to administration salaries. Finally, the student made this statement, “It is time our student representatives and SGA leadership stop behaving like toadies for the administration and defend our interest.” In responding, for the record, you should know I am not and never have been a student representative or part of SGA leadership. I can, though, understand the need for a tuition increase, and I don’t feel it makes me a “toady” for the administration. MWSU has increased its enrollment by 18 percent over the past three years, which is higher than all of the other four-year universities in the state. Interestingly enough, MWSU accomplishes this while receiving less state aid per student than all of the other four-year universities in the state. A much improved, more beautiful, campus likely attracted a few of those new students. Thank you community members, because through your itemized donations we have been able to accomplish most of the beautification projects seen on campus. A thank you is also due to the MWSU administration, because they didn’t take a pay raise over the course of the past three years either. Now, lets review the reason MWSU received budget cuts. Each year the governor hammers out a budget that he sends to the state legislature, which then goes through a legislative process filled with committee hearings, expert testimony, debate, and, of course, voting from the state legislature. In the event of a major natural disaster the governor can choose to make certain funding withholdings from almost any government entity receiving state funding. These withholdings forego the legislative process; requiring no hearings, no expert testimony, no debate, and definitely no votes from the state legislature. A state Representative from Joplin, Bill White, was quoted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on Aug. 27 saying, “This is why we have a rainy day fund; higher education shouldn’t have to pay for debris removal in Joplin. We have other money for that.” It should also be noted that the governor’s withholdings closely resemble his own budget that he issued to the state legislature earlier in the year. That budget went through the above process, and came out with MWSU receiving its adequate share of funding. Interestingly enough, the governor chose to sign the budget that went through the legislature instead of augmenting it with his power of a line-item veto. Using the line-item veto would’ve allowed him to set the funding level for MWSU, but he would have also been the only person to blame for the change. SGA, if you’re now considering the proposed way of dealing with tuition increases by cutting administration salaries by the same percent of increase that the students are facing… please don’t do this. I’ll admit I’m not a math major, but if this policy were to be put into place we would end up with a very poor administration and eventually none at all. For example, with a policy like this, if tuition were to increase with an average rate of inflation (say three percent annually) then within a decade the administration would have a pay cut of 30 percent. Within two decades 60 percent, three decades 90 percent, and 40 years from now the administration would have to pay to work at MWSU. Sincerly, Patrick Graham

Weidemann clarifies previous letter

To the Editor, Thank you for printing my letter in your paper.  I have been happy with the feedback I have received from many students both agreeing and disagreeing with myself.  There is one area of my letter, however, I would like to clarify for any who found my point vague. The idea that the proposal I voiced was a “political stunt,” as some have suggested, goes to the heart of the intent of my criticism.  This proposal was not meant as a catch all solution to our budgetary woes, in which case it would indeed be a “political stunt.”  Asking the administration to help bear the burden of a tuition hike by the means suggested would be a symbolic gesture that would help us students swallow the pill of increased tuition.  I see no reason why or student representatives could not be in favor of such a condition on our approval. Furthermore, SGA’s act of unanimously supporting this tuition hike in a symbolic vote is itself a “political stunt,” the problem being it is a stunt with the administration’s interests in mind, not ours.  By failing to promote student interests and allowing its actions to become talking points for the administration SGA has failed to represent its constituents.  It isn’t the system that the students, myself included, disapprove of; it is the abuse and neglect of the system. There is no one-stop solution to budget problems, and I am not suggesting that tuition increases are out of the question.  If they are employed, however, they should come only after the students have seen evidence of budgetary cuts that do not hinder the quality of our education and only if they are not unilaterally placed on students.  We want to know the powers that be, specifically those responsible for raising tuition, are sharing the burden.  And we see our student representatives as being responsible for ensuring this.  Perhaps there was an administrative hand behind SGA’s tuition vote and perhaps not.  Either way, we students understand it to be a major missed opportunity.  Because our representatives failed to attach conditions to a bill vital to our interests, symbolic or not, they gave our voices up to the administration’s agenda. I would like to stress that this is not intended as an attack on any individual’s character or integrity.  Respect is due to all persons willing to make an informed judgment on these issues, whether it is the same as mine or not.  Hopefully this dialogue will continue to provoke MWSU students to engage in thoughtful discussion on the issues we face, both as students and as a university. Respectfully, Gary Weidemann

Western held accountable for following smoking policies

Dear Editor,  There was an article about the SGA President and incoming SGA people concentrating their efforts to enforce the smoking policy of Missouri Western State University and how to deal with the complaints from non-smokers and meeting in the middle for all students to be happy.  The smokers of cigarettes know to address the problem of trash that is left behind from uncaring people like smokers that leave a bad taste when they view cigarette butts around campus grounds; it’s for all people that come here.  The passing of the student vote has made SGA become the voice for all students and help with the complaints about smoking and the rules that come with it. The SGA Director is glad the students have spoken in the vote. But, it may become the policy of MWSU anyway because of carelessness of the smokers themselves.  Due to current financial constraints and to tidy up the campus, this may be the only way for MWSU to clean up the butts. Employees get a paycheck and the cuts that the campus was dealt needs, to show up somewhere.  I think that the author is explaining to be thankful of what you have and to respect others that you may affect because human carelessness will have a permanent effect on the campus. It is a privilege and not a right to smoke.  People need to be aware and respectful of other people and be responsible for the acts that reflect on them. His past article calls it like it is and smokers better listen up.  My position is that I am thankful that the smokers were there to vote.  On that day of voting, I was telling people (that were smoking) that they need to vote if they want to continue with the privilege they have. I am a smoker and a firm believer that everyone’s vote counts and if you don’t exercise that right, then you get what you get.  What I don’t like is that some people are lazy and are not willing to work to get along, like moving the smokers spot to an area that are agreeable for both parties. Now that cigarette butts on the ground have caused an issue, it is clear that we need to move the smoke pad somewhere else. We need to put peer pressure on them to not leave butts on the ground and have some pride in themselves ad help keep the campus clean. Either way, I don’t want to lose what I have and it looks like I’m going to fight to keep it. Sincerly,  Brian Gomez

Student responds to previous editorial

This is my response to the editorial in the Nov. 18 Griffon News. As a student who has been an associate senator and a senator of SGA, when you have a complaint about SGA, you should talk to a senator or any one of the executive board members or come to a senate meeting, which is open to all students to attend. The senate meeting is at 5 p.m. Monday night on the second floor of Blum. The only way to get correct facts about what is going on with SGA is by attending a senate meeting or talking to a member of SGA. There has been a lot of talk about the administrative assistant for SGA that has been in the paper and other people talking about it, but they are giving out the wrong facts about this position that Kathy Kelly will be filling. Kelly’s position is not really new, it’s mainly just a change in title and moving her office within the SGA office since she will be doing the same job that she has been doing for years with SGA. Kelly has been helping everyone in SGA for years with training all the officers in the responsibility of all the executive officers and senators, For instance, the director of finance who runs the FOC committee where the clubs and organizations apply for funding for their club events or conferences that the clubs are attending. Once FOC approves their requests, then Kelly sends the money to the clubs account or pays electronically for the tickets, hotel expenses or whatever the approved funding is for. Since the director of finance cannot send the money himself, Kelly will not be taking over responsibilities of any of the executive officers with her new position. SGA decided to this, since we hired a new vice president of student affairs. Kelly’s responsibilities have doubled compared to our last advisor for SGA, who was an associate dean of student affairs, who has less responsibility than a vice president of student affairs? Dr. Esther Peralez who is the new VP of student affairs and our new advisor for SGA agreed with SGA wanting to make Kelly the administrative assistant for SGA, with this change we will continue to have consistency from year to year within SGA. Having Peralez as the advisor for SGA is a good thing for student government since Peralez is for the students and encourages more students to get involve with student government, and her being a vice president can also help with getting student’s voice with top administration. Sincerely, Dan Drope