Tuesday, May 26, 2009

From the President's Desk

Jeff Yeager is the latest high-profile student at Concord to start blogging. The recently-elected SGA President started up his blog "From the President's Desk," and his first post is an introduction to himself and his Executive Board. His second post is a brief look at his history in the SGA and a few thoughts on issues he's working on.

Check it out ... http://presidentyeager.blogspot.com/

One of the things Jeff talks about in his first post is what he perceives to be a problem that has plagued the SGA in the past:

The previous administration (under which I served as Attorney General) was merely the victim of a faulty ideology that has plagued SGA over the past several years--that is, the infamous "Country Club". Instead of being an organization dedicated to helping the students, the Student Government has been mainly led by people focused on helping themselves or focused on helping a small group of people.

That term has been thrown around a lot to describe the SGA - that it has "country club" tendencies, i.e., that only certain people or groups can benefit from the SGA at the expense of others. I do think that's a big problem, as it has seemed like the same people - or same fraternity or sorority or group - has had all the top positions in the past. However, I don't think it's the biggest problem. The biggest problems are two, which are intertwined - apathy and ignorance.

Apathy and ignorance. People don't care about the Student Government Association and as a result, they don't understand it. It's not seen as something for the students. That needs to change, and hopefully Jeff and his crew will help lead that change.

He writes about his ascension to the Presidency being one example of the students being tired of the "country club" atmosphere that existed in the SGA. I agree with that. I was a strong supporter of Jeff's during his campaign. I should point out, I wasn't always a strong supporter of Jeff's. He's done a lot to win me over in the last year.

The first time I ever met Jeff actually had nothing to do with the SGA. I interviewed him and a group of other students for a feature on their new student group, ALEF. I think there were 5 students overall that I interviewed, but Jeff and another girl - I think it was Brittany Keys - did most of the talking.

A while later, I noticed that he started attending SGA meetings. As he pointed out in his blog, he was very low-key and he didn't strike me as being a leader. I could tell he was concerned about Concord and enjoyed being active in the SGA - but he didn't stand out enough for me. That's why I didn't vote for him when he ran for Attorney General.

It was a hotly-contested race between several people, and I honestly thought Jeff was the weak link in that race. He hadn't done enough to impress me at that point. My original pick for that position was Rob Elsaid. But, loopholes and other issues forced his name off the ticket at the last minute. My vote instead went to the next person on my list - Chris Matheny. He impressed me at the debate and I liked how he carried himself.

After the election and the semester ended, I wrote a blog on my old MySpace account where I looked at the incoming SGA executive branch, led by President Wes Prince. Aside from Prince himself, I pointed out what I considered to be weak links in the 2008-2009 SGA - Ashley Hicks and Jeff Yeager.

I pointed out that Ashley had been sort of "start & stop" with her SGA involvement over the years, as it seemed as though she would often get burned out on the SGA. And, with Jeff, I pointed out that he hadn't shown me any leadership skills and I was worried about how effective he could be in a high-profile position.

The 2008-2009 academic year started, and through the course of two semesters, I was the most impressed by the progression of two individuals - Ashley Hicks and Jeff Yeager. That's why I thought it was very fitting that those two wound up running against each other for SGA President.

Ashley and Jeff both showed true leadership qualities throughout the year. Ashley started out the year as Business Manager & ended it as Vice President, and showed a real dedication to the SGA and maintaining its legitimacy. Jeff did the same. He spearheaded some important committees and spoke out about several things in the SGA he didn't agree with - several of President Prince's actions and the infamous meeting that was adjourned in 5 minutes.

For those who read my old blog, we all know why I wound up choosing Jeff. They were both very competent leaders, only Ashley had made a few decisions I didn't agree with. So, my vote went with Jeff.

This was actually something I didn't address during the campaign season, but I do think it played a big part - Ashley is considered to be a part of that "country club" atmosphere that several were tired of seeing. I'm not saying she had ever done anything wrong, or would have if elected. I just think students didn't want "more of the same," and Ashley was seen as being part of the "inner circle" of previous administrations. Jeff wasn't seen that way and I think that went over well with the student body.

Jeff has made a couple big decisions recently. He discusses them briefly in his second blog. He also discusses it - along with several others - in the comments section of a couple of my previous blogs. Those two decisions are lowering SGA executive pay and helping Concord's administration fund keeping the library open later.

There was opposition to these ideas in the comments sections on my blog, and Jeff admits in his post that what he did wasn't perfect. But, the point of his blog is to be better open for student suggestion and criticism, while keeping people updated on what he's doing in office. So, if you have a criticism, let him know about it. If you want to know what's going on in the SGA, read his blog.

Two high-profile students at Concord are now blogging - Board of Governors representative Curtis Kearns and SGA President Jeff Yeager. Both of these blogs are also imported into Facebook, which seems to be the most popular social-networking medium at Concord.

This is a great step towards a more transparent government. If somebody makes a promise and doesn't fulfill it, the proof is right there in writing. If somebody disagrees with something, they can leave a comment on a post. If somebody is in favor of an action, they can do the same. These blogs help make the SGA more "student accessible," something it has not been in the past. I hope these blogs get a lot of publicity and a lot of student involvement.

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