Letter to the editor: Critique Yourself

*Editor’s note: Student Government Association (SGA) president responds to The Leader’s editorial opinions

To the Editors,

As I end my senior year and tenure on Student Government Association, I thought it was necessary to “wield the pen”. So here are my thoughts about, and advice to, this newspaper.

I am humbled that you believe in the prominence of SGA enough to be featuring us at least once a month. I only wish that you would ever choose to consult with our organization before putting out false claims against the very group that supports your existence. I believe that you have motivated writers, and I hope that you use that fervor to be better writers. This means being critical, while being understanding of the barriers that exist for those that you are criticizing. I, at the end of the day, am a student and can only do so much in my position. Moreover, I and those on the board with me are only human—always capable of making errors, learning, and growing.

The Leader’s relationship with SGA, or any Elmhurst College entity, does not have to be so negatively charged. It’s college. Your paper often seeks perfection from everyone besides itself. As the college is growing, we need to be bringing the community together. The Leader’s beratement on a different group or initiative every issue does the opposite.

You have claimed SGA wages wars and cuts budgets (we don’t), that the group is bias in their choices (we aren’t) and closed off to the student body (we constitutionally cannot be). In fact, looking at an article about SGA written by editors just two years ago—March 2016—we have successfully implemented or supported all initiatives listed. Unfortunately, there is rarely ever any recognition that in fact, SGA is working to serve the student body. I hope that your paper attempts to do the same.

Sincerely,

Madiha Ahmed
2018-2019 SGA president

EDITORIAL: Student Government Association (SGA) should revisit legislator meetings

The last of SGA’s monthly legislature meetings is this Thursday, wrapping up the year with cookies and sandwiches provided.

At the end of the spring 2018 term, SGA ratified a new constitution. Part of that constitution introduced legislator meetings, which are monthly meetings that a representative or legislator from every student organization on campus must attend, or have their funding/ability to apply to Co-Op cut.

SGA has long been struggling to connect with its constituents with the lack of attendance from the student body in SGA meetings. The legislator meetings have been the first time people who are not a part of SGA are consistently coming to meetings.

However, these meetings are a failed attempt at a great idea. Crowded, unproductive meetings are not the way to bring campus organizations together, and certainly not worth cutting funding over.

There is no need to call for abolition, but there is a need for drastic reform.

Why does every single organization come to one meeting rather than dividing groups up throughout the month? Why is SGA not being more proactive in sponsoring and attending other groups events, but threatening to defund organizations who do not obey?

The meetings have been about things such as how to order food from Chartwells, how to reserve a space, and how to apply for Cooperative Funding (Co-Op). This may be great for new organizations who may not be familiar with the existing processes, but certainly not necessary for everyone.

This year, organizations, including SGA, faced extreme cuts to their budget, and unfunded organizations are facing harsher Co-Op guidelines than they have in the recent past. Is additional pressure really the best SGA can do to better our campus?

SGA is using strong arm politics to blackmail people into attending something they simply do not care about. We get it. Student apathy has been one of the biggest issues on this campus since forever, and there has not really been an effective solution for it. But bad politics is bad politics, and this method is simply not working nor does it promote unity.

Disorganization is the enemy of all student organizations. Whether it is within the organization, whether it is conflicting programming with other groups, or even just poor marketing. However, it is not impossible to beat.

Just last week, every Greek organization worked together with Student Affairs to organize one cohesive week of programming. The cultural identity groups have been doing the same through the Coalition of Multicultural Engagement.

There are models on this campus of what true unity among organizations can look like, and none of them involve threats of cutting budgets. Not only does SGA have examples to learn from, they also have the resources to do better. What they do not have is an excuse for wasting our time thus far, and that needs to be changed.

COLUMN: SGA is slacking

Nova Uriostegui

COLUMNIST

As an organization run by students for the students, Student Government Association has been slacking on including the voices of the individuals they are supposed to represent. It really has not been clear what they have done for the students besides approve budgets, cut budgets, and reprimand organizations for not attending legislator meetings.

The information SGA provides to the students seems to be skewed in the direction of student leaders and individuals who are involved in organizations, and they miss the mark with the rest of the student body. Most of the information they are relaying to students is done in such a way that unless you are an active student leader, you just might miss.

In between a crammed protective hour when meetings are held, the navigation of Engage as an every day student for the minutes, and legislator meetings every now and again, the information they discuss and the way people can get their concerns to the Board of Trustees needs to be clearer and more accessible.

Unfortunately, the BOT meetings are closed to the public, and in order to be able to sit in, you must be invited. This is a big issue as well since SGA could simply sugar coat everything as to keep the board members happy or oblivious.

Student Government Association is meant to bridge the gap between the student body and administration, as well as the BOT; however, it seems this year they have almost closed the bridge, or at least have not been maintaining it.

The SGA executive board meets with a select few BOT members during the Student Life Committee, and all they do is show the trustees what they have done for the year.

Last year, there was a survey sent out before the BOT, by SGA, that asked for student input. It was sent to the student body, and SGA received and presented the feedback.

This year, no such thing has happened; they did not ask for the voices they are supposed to be representing, and not many events connecting with the students has happened either, or at least it has felt that way. No more civic conversations, open forums, or even metra pass giveaways. It seems like there has been more drama and entitlement as a replacement.

Not every issue that students bring up can be addressed in one meeting nor does every issue have a simple solution the board members can just sign into action, but simply bringing something up to the trustees to have them think is a reasonable goal that should not take much from our SGA.

Until they have public sessions, we have to settle for the image that the members of SGA create on our behalf.

Let SGA know your concerns sooner rather than later. The BOT members have meetings once a semester on campus, so tell SGA what you want them to hear.

We can only hope that SGA does their job, and as of right now, it seems like a lot is being swept under the rug. Maybe someday the BOT will see the need for public sessions, but until then, we have to hold SGA to a higher standard.