The Current | April 5, 1999
SGA needs students to apply for seats
The Student Government Association Assembly is designed to represent all students' interests. However, if your interests and concerns do not agree with the Assembly's executive officers, then your voice will probably not be heard.
The SGA Assembly is primarily made up of organizational representatives. Most of them are only there because attendance requirements require them to be there in order to keep their funding. These representatives generally will not go against the status quo because it could hurt them when they are up for funding. These organizational representatives become puppets for the executive officers to get their agendas through the Assembly.
Take, for example, the approval of associate membership in the Association of Students at the University of Missouri (ASUM). The Assembly members were given a presentation about ASUM at the February meeting. They were not told they were going to vote on associate membership until they walked in the meeting in March. This was an important issue that Assembly members should have known they would be voting on before walking in the Assembly meeting.
Organizational representatives at that meeting tabled a motion that would make the Homecoming Committee issue a formal apology to evening students for not being allowed to vote for Homecoming King and Queen. Why? One representative said that a formal apology was not necessary. Wrong. Evening students were denied their rights and need to be told that this will not happen again. (Evening students did not get to vote for Homecoming Court in 1997 either.)
At the April meeting, the SGA Assembly will be voting on a new constitution. Why is it being voted on at the last meeting of the year? It is because President Jim Avery wants to have some accomplishment for his term of office. Copies of the proposed constitution and bylaws were passed out to the Assembly, but strangely, copies of the current constitution and bylaws were not available to members, even though the Assembly has been using them as their operating procedures all year (when somebody wants to use them). Hopefully the Assembly will wake up and see that this important issue cannot be rushed down their throats.
The image of SGA has been tarnished. Hopefully, students will elect executive officers that will care about all students. However, all students, even though they are not in any organization, can help make SGA better. Besides the executive officers, 22 representatives representing the various schools and colleges at UM-St. Louis will be elected in the April elections. Last year only one student (me) ran for a school or college SGA representative. These at large representatives represent all students, not the minority of students who are members of organizations. If these 22 at large representatives are added to SGA, maybe the interests of all students will be heard in SGA.
Why aren't these seats filled? Maybe, students are apathetic. Maybe (unlike the senate) students will not know when these meetings will be held until the first of the year when the executive officers decide when it would be convenient to them. In recent years, they have chosen weekday afternoons. That time discriminates against students who work full-time. They are a part of the campus whose voices are not heard. I would like to see the SGA go back to Sunday afternoons or evenings as they did in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Then the SGA would represent a cross section of the student body.
If these 22 representative seats are not filled, the SGA Assembly when revising the Constitution and bylaws could decide to eliminate these representative seats. Then the student body would be the losers. But I have another option. If the student body cannot fill these 22 seats, maybe the SGA should be abolished. Then student organizations would not have to attend meetings in order to receive their funding.
Students, prove me wrong. Run for a representative position on the SGA. Applications are available in 267 University Center. The application deadline is April 9. Make a difference by running for a representative position on the SGA.
-Steven M. Wolfe
Graduate School Representative
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