SGA holds first senate meeting since Jan. 29

News Student Government

On Feb. 19, SGA held its first Senate meeting since Jan. 29 in order to conduct routine business that had piled up during the demonstration.

SGA Vice President Reece Christensen said that there was concern among senators that allowing the allowing the business to be unaddressed was causing unnecessary harm to students.

“There were some things on the previous agenda that some of the senators felt like we needed to get taken care of this week and felt that continuing the demonstration as we were didn’t benefit the students,” Christensen said.

At the meeting, SGA reinstated Anime Club an RSO and approved Phi Beta Lambda as an RSO.

Christensen said that this meeting does not necessarily mark the end of the demonstration, but that it doesn’t weaken it either.

“The goal of the demonstration was to get the attention of administration and fellow students,” Christensen said. “I would say it’s been successful so far. I think that there’s been more talk of SGA. At least there’s been more talk about SGA now then there has been in the time that I’ve been here, and the administration seems to actually take interest in what we’re talking about.”

Christensen, SGA President Kyle Fuson, Vice President for Student Affairs Shana Meyer and Administrative Coordinator Jessica Frogge have been continuing to have regular meetings. Meyer says that they are continuing to discuss SGA’s concerns.

“The first time that I received a comprehensive list from them [SGA] was Tuesday,” Meyer said. “I think conversations are continuing. I think a lot of the points that they raise are really good points and they’re things that we’ll continue to work on.”

SGA released a list of eight major concerns that were broken down into five SGA-specific concerns and three overall student concerns. Most of the issues raised in the release are in line with the concerns that The Griffon News had previously reported on.

Meyer believes that there has been some miscommunication and misperception on both sides, which is the core cause of the concerns.

“I just think there has been miscommunication,” Meyer said. “Some of the pieces that they had addressed I thought were already taken care of or were in discussion.”

Meyer was also unaware that there was a perception of a veto power being used by administration.

“In my perception, I haven’t vetoed anything,” Meyer said. “Something that was recently told to me was that there is a perception sometimes of an informal veto. That was an eye-opener to me and I wish that was something that had been openly addressed.”

Meyer said that she only became aware of this perception during open conversation.

“My intent is to point out what obstacles there might be and help the students work through those,” Meyer said. “I think that was an eye-opener to me and that did come through open communication and open conversation.”

Fuson, Christensen and Student Governor Joseph Kellogg met with Missouri Western President Robert Vartabedian to discuss their concerns and possible solutions. Vartabedian said that his focus was on improving the situation.

“I thought they were very reasonable and I tried to go through some of their concerns and see what we could do about it,” Vartabedian said. “My approach to the entire meeting was ‘well, what can we do to make your circumstances better.’”

Vartabedian said that administration isn’t trying to oppose students, but is trying to do its job.

“I think where we’re coming from is if we’re asked our opinion on something, we’re going to ask some questions,” Vartabedian said. “But that’s just what we do when asked for our opinion, but that’s not to say that we’re trying to stonewall them in anyway.”

Vartabedian also met with Meyer before and after he met with Fuson, Christensen and Kellogg and believes that they are making progress.

“I think, at least from my perspective, it sounds like we’re making movement in a positive direction,” Vartabedian said. “Whether or not they feel that way is hard to say. I sure hope they do and if they don’t, they have an open invitation to come back and talk to me.”

Vartabedian says that Meyer is caught in an awkward position between being an administrator and being an advocate for students.

“I felt like their [SGA] concerns were sincere concerns and I’m convinced that Vice President Meyer wants to do the right thing,” Vartabedian said. “I think for her, probably the biggest complication is that she’s caught in two worlds. She’s obviously the administrative advocate for students, but then she’s also an administrator.”

Vartabedian says that Meyer should feel empowered to advocate for the students.

“Don’t feel compromised because you’re an administrator in being the number one advocate for students,” Vartabedian said. “Don’t feel like that in any way will lessen your authority as an administrator. You need to do what you need to do to represent students and to move their agenda forward.”

Vartabedian supports the constitutional amendment that SGA is currently seeking if it goes through the appropriate measures.

“As long as they go through the appropriate process, that’s what a university is all about—making those kinds of changes through due process,” Vartabedian said.

Christensen was encouraged by the meeting, but is willing to go forward with the demonstration if necessary.

“I think that Dr. Vartabedian was incredibly receptive to what we were saying and I see him taking action that will positively benefit the students, but if for some reason that isn’t the case, we will expand our demonstration,” Christensen said.

The next SGA meeting is scheduled for Feb. 26, and there has been no word as to whether or not it will be held as of Feb. 20.