Why you should care about SGA
Jay Benedict | Collegio Editor in Chief
Student Government Association elections are now in full swing, and based on students’ attitudes expressed in recent articles in this publication, the overwhelming reaction is, “So what?”
A contested election at Pittsburg State is somewhat of a rarity in recent years. This year the Breaking Out of the Menagerie (BOOM) party faces off against the All Student Advocacy Party (ASAP). The candidates from each party represent diverse communities and bring a wide breadth of experiences to the table. Both parties are running on platforms that will benefit the university in many ways. Students will likely cast their vote based on whose ideas they support, among a variety of other possible reasons.
The fact is, since all of these platforms improve PSU in some way, many of them will likely be implemented regardless of who gets elected. More students might be inclined to vote and take a closer look at the candidates if they knew everything SGA does, and specifically what the victors and their appointed cabinet members do, that affect the student body.
Aside from handing out Scantrons, SGA also allocates $25,000 SGA to student organizations each semester. They also oversee many of the campus’s largest events, like this weekend’s Big Event. The executive staff serves as the main liason between students and administration, faculty and the community.
Current SGA President Eric Jones says attending the monthly meeting of the Student Advocacy Committee in Topeka is one of the body’s most important functions. The committee is comprised of the presidents and legislative directors from all six Kansas Board of Regents schools student governments.
“We meet and decide what to lobby the representatives for on Higher Education Day on the Hill,” Jones said. “We also have speaking time at every Regents meeting to bring up the big issues that our campus and students are facing.”
Students are assessed a variety of fees each semester when they pay tuition. Among these are a $135 athletics fee, a $93 student health fee, and an $80 student activity fee, which funds things like the PSU spirit squad, theater productions and the Collegio. The aggregate of student fees is in the millions of dollars and increases each year. The past five years have seen fees increase by $27.90 each year.
The president and vice president sit on all the fee review boards and are the students’ voice in the fee negotiations. Those increases are reviewed by the entire SGA body before being approved.
“Most of the fee review boards are filled by administrators, so we really represent the student voice,” Jones said. “SGA reviews them and then sends our recommendations on to President Scott. He usually takes our views into account.”
Juniors Lara Ismert and Sydney Ward, are running as the president and vice presidential candidates for BOOM. Graduate students Kafui Alomenu and Edwin Stremel are running for ASAP. Both parties’ platforms involve improving sustainability, growing the campus community, and making SGA more accessible to students. But each party has differing ideas on how to achieve those goals.
SGA held its first ever candidate debate on Tuesday, and voting opened yesterday. Voting will remain open until Thursday, April 19. The results will be announced at 8 a.m. Friday, April 20, in Russ Hall.
For more extensive coverage of the debate and candidates, see page 4.