Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
By Paula Wesson, Managing Editor
On Friday, Oct. 25, 22 clubs received an email reminding them that their budgets were going to be cut by 15% if they did not attend one Student Government Association (SGA) meeting each month. For many clubs, this was the first time that they had heard this, and so they had missed two months’ worth of meetings.
I believe that there are serious flaws with SGA’s plans. But, I also believe that there are various solutions they can consider.
Problem 1: The Announcement
Of course, the first problem with SGA’s plan is that many clubs did not know about the new rule until it was too late. A quick scroll through the email accounts of clubs I am involved in shows that no previous email was sent by either SGA or their adviser, Cynthia Fulford, in order to alert them to the change.
An email announcement may have been sent to student accounts instead of club accounts. Many students admit, though, that they do not read every email they receive because their in-boxes fill up quickly.
I found the announcement, if you can call it that, on the back of a newsletter from the Office of Leadership and Student Development that was in one of the lounges. In the middle of an article on SGA, it says, “Each SGA funded club will be required to have [a] representative at every Senate meeting.” The announcement makes no mention of the repercussions of not having a representative.
The announcement was also made at Nuts and Bolts workshops, which club officers were supposed to attend. Fulford, who led those sessions, failed to mention that budgets would be cut. Several club officers report that they thought it was optional.
The obvious solution is to make important announcements in advance, make them well-known, and make them clear: In addition to sending the announcement out via email, post it on OrgSync, the way recent SGA bills have been announced.
Problem 2: The Time
SGA meets on Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m. which is during classes for many students.
A quick course search on My Cedar Crest reveals that 20 classes are in session at that time or soon after the meeting begins, at 6:30 p.m. SGA could simply move their meeting times to after 9:30 p.m. when most classes end.
On the other hand, 9:30 p.m. would be a nuisance to SAGE students who would prefer to be at home with their families.
In that case, another solution would be to send an SGA representative to club meetings.
A third solution would be to allow digital voting. Many clubs currently use SurveyMonkey and DoodlePoll, online websites that allow club members to vote when they cannot be present at meetings.
Better yet, SGA could use OrgSync, the social media tool they require every campus organization to have. In fact, OrgSync is probably the best choice because it could prevent people from voting multiple times by requiring them to sign into their OrgSync accounts.
Problem 3: Contradictory Information
You may have noticed that the announcement I quoted under Problem 1 says each club must attend “every Senate meeting” [emphasis added]. But the email sent out by Joellyn Colangelo, treasurer of SGA, says, “all clubs funded by SGA are required to send a representative to a SGA Senate meeting (6:15 PM every Wednesday, 1867 Room) once a month” [emphasis added].
Clubs are also receiving contradictory information from Fulford herself. Many club officers report that they spoke to Fulford and that they were told there would be no repercussions for missing the meetings.
As secretary of a club, I tried to contact Fulford on Oct. 17 because no members of the club were able to attend the SGA meeting. More than one week later, Fulford has yet to respond. (Update: Fulford responded by letting me know the email had been forwarded to SGA.)
When our club president tried to follow up, the email was not answered by Fulford, but by Colangelo. This time, Colangelo said we could miss the meetings without losing our budget if we simply email them once a month.
Hmm…So, SGA first needs to figure out what they actually want.
They want clubs to vote on campus issues: But how do they want clubs to vote? In person? Via email? Or via OrgSync?
Update: At the November 6 SGA meeting, SGA President Sockna Momie Cisse said that this is not a new requirement. She said the rule could be found in SGA’s Finance Manual. The Finance Manual can be downloaded from SGA’s website. This Finance Manual has not been updated since September 2011. I could not find this requirement in the manual.