Friday, September 4, 2009

9/2/09 SGA Meeting

Before we get started with all that jazz from the 9/2 meeting of the Student Government Association, I want to make note of a couple things. First, there is coverage of last week's SGA meeting in The Concordian. Click here to see it. Also, click here to check out my SGA blog from last week, since I'm going to reference it a few times.

Last week's blog had nearly 30 comments, some of which were positive. Some weren't. Check out Jesse Call's comments. He and I debate a pointless, 3-year-old subject. It happens sometimes. More relevant comments came from Sigma Sigma Sigma member Kiwa Nadas, who didn't seem to appreciate some comments I made last week.

I'll give you the part of the blog she disagreed with, in addition to her and my comments.

From my blog -

That looks like about all from the meeting. The resolution was tabled b/c the SGA wasn't sure exactly what services they were spending their money on. Or, it may have been tabled because Ashley Hicks said it should be, which caused all the other members of Sigma Sigma Sigma & Tau Kappa Epsilon in the room to vote with her. For the record, I think it should have been tabled a week. It just makes more sense to get more information.

Speaking of Ashley Hicks, I overheard her say a couple interesting things during the meeting. I wasn't trying to overhear... she just has a voice that sort of "carries"... if you know what I mean. She told Curtis Kearns after the meeting that she had been texting last year's President Wes Prince during the meeting. I also overheard her saying something to the effect that she couldn't sit next to Curtis because they wanted it to seem like they were more spread out in the room, so they wouldn't be seen as a "clique" sitting in the same area. I paraphrased that last one. So, take those however you'd like.

Here's Kiwa's first comment:

While I agree with 90% of what was said in your blog, I have a problem with your bias towards Greek life and the fact that you accuse some of us as voting a certain way because someone else says its right. Each of us have a mind of our own and use it to its full potential. Frankly am a little offended that you called us a "clique" and used ONE of my several affiliations as a negative. Ashley may have said something along the lines of staying away from her sisters to avoid a cluster, but rest assured, it was not shared with the rest of this "clique" nor would we care to follow it. The fact that so many Sigmas and/or TKE members are ALWAYS present in SGA meetings, goes to show we have minds that think alike and are trying to accomplish the same goals in our lives. NOT because someone told us to come or because we feel we need to be there to boost a vote a certain way. Please in the future give some benefit of a doubt since without our "clique", SGA would not be as full as it is now.

Here's my response:

Maybe I was wrong to say "every" member of those groups. But, historically, the members of those two groups tend to vote together. Also, historically, the members tend to vote that way after Ashley stands up and makes a point.

I will give you guys the benefit of the doubt in the future. If I see less "clique-iness" I'll be sure to point it out.

Thank you for reading & caring enough to comment.

Here's her final response:

Historically we vote the same way because, like I said above, we think alike and are working towards a same goal. However, to say that Sigmas and TKE generally vote alike is a lie. In fact to say TKE votes alike is a lie. There is currently dissent among TKE. Even to say that Sigma members vote alike every time is a lie. I remember several times last year when I would not vote with my "clique". Also for a more recent example, Ashley voted against the amendment to add more freshman senators, while the "clique" that apparently orbs around her voted for it. Im offended on behalf of the students who dont have a vote, myself included, that you think and are spreading the opinion that we are there for one reason: to vote the way Ashley does. Please do not make statements about people that you have never spoken to before and when you have no evidence to support the opinion.

So, there's that. I hung out with Ashley Hicks a little bit on Monday and we chatted about that a little bit. After talking with her, there's one small clarification I want to make with what I wrote. I didn't make myself clear enough on it, and it kind of makes Ashley sound bad. I wasn't trying so much to imply that Ashley makes everybody change their mind - the point is that a lot of the people in the SGA meetings don't formulate their own opinions and make up their mind based on who talks the loudest and longest (which in this case was Ashley).

At one point in 9/2 meeting, a vote was taking place. I heard somebody say, "What are we voting on?" Nobody answered her, so she looked around and saw everybody else voting "yes" and she stuck her voting paddle in the air.

To address what Kiwa wrote, I think we are having a different understanding of what "historically" means. She's referring to instances from last week and last semester, while I'm talking about instances from the last two or three years. So, lately, the members of Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Sigma Sigma haven't been voting alike, but historically, they have. Hopefully that straightens things up.

Also, regarding the Concordian section of my blog - I spoke with Wendy Holdren about the subject and it looks like she is not going to be Editor-in-Chief for two years. So, one of her goals will be to help assemble a good staff that will be here for the future. That's not as easy as it sounds; believe me, I know from experience.

If you haven't heard already, I am back on the newspaper staff. I wrote two stories for the 9/2 edition of the paper - click here to see my story about the Ceramic Arts Society new wood kiln and click here to see my story on the opinions page about commuting tips. I really like the commuting tips article. It's not something you usually see on the page, but I wanted to try and do something that was kind of serious and kind of funny at the same time. In it, I give some differences between commuting and living on campus, the best places on campus to study, and the best places on campus to take a nap. I also give a "shout-out" to the SGA Commuter committee at the end, which will hopefully have a meeting time soon.

On some of the articles, there are some spacing problems. Hopefully that will be corrected soon. There are two kinds of "justification" - one takes words to the end of the line and the other takes individual letters to the end. I think we need to switch from the letter to the word one to fix the spacing issues. But, I'm not the web designer, that's only my assumption.

If they're hard to read, just copy and paste it into a Word document.

Now, onto the SGA meeting...

* * *

The first matter of business at the SGA meeting was to re-swear in all the officers. Apparently there was some confusion that they took the wrong Oath of Office. It stems from last semester where they added in the line about being ethical, but the Constitution wasn't updated with that change or something. They corrected it. If they did take the wrong oath, was everything they did before that official? That's something to think about...

Committees still haven't met yet, so we're straight into Officer reports:

Attorney General Bill Lewis again pointed out the importance of attendance ... also, next week, he will begin appointing people to the Judicial Reform committee.

Board of Governors representative Curtis Kearns announced that Friday, Sept. 4, he would be attending a meeting to begin search for a permanent Vice President and Academic Dean ... also, if anybody wants to be a member of the Tution & Fees committee, talk to him

Business Manager Matt Belcher began his report by noting that he was being taken to the Student Supreme Hearing Board by Ashley Hicks, Curtis Kearns, and Wes Prince because they believe they were paid improperly ... Belcher also unveiled the SGA budget ... I think I caught most of the numbers they are (correct me if I make any errors):

Officer Pay - $28,250
Workers Compensation - $250
Office Supplies - $1500
Printing - $50
Travel - $1000 ($500 in state, $500 out of state)
Misc. - $500
Training & Development - $200
Postal - $50
Misc. Equipment - $100
SGA Scholarships - $2000
New Organization Fund - $1000
Emergency Reserve - $3028.50
Total: $37,928.50

That leaves a total of $63,021.50 to give to organizations during the Budgetary Session ... in discussion of the budget, Ashley Hicks asked how much money was left in the "Special Projects" fund created last semester ... Belcher said he was unsure ... Bill Lewis said that there was at least $7000 in it

I don't really know enough about the SHB case to really comment on it. It wouldn't surprise me if I wound up covering that for The Concordian (so, anybody involved, prepare to talk to me...). The one thing I thought was interesting was that when Matt announced that he was being taken to the SHB, I looked over at Ashley and saw that she was reading a book (which I later saw to be "Gullivers Travels"). And, again, if I got any of those financial numbers wrong, let me know. Paper copies weren't presented, and I was just writing them down as Matt said them.

There was a lot of discussion about the "New Org." fund and what it was for. It's kind of a neat idea - if you're a new club, the SGA will give you some money so that you can maintain yourself. It was partly inspired, I believe, by the demise of "El Club," the Spanish club. They didn't last long. That's kind of a cool thing. I think it may help encourage people to start clubs. But, if people don't start any clubs, what happens to the money?

Faculty Senate Representative Ashley Green gave her report, saying that she was looking into religious studies courses (click here to read a letter Jeff Yeager wrote to The Concordian about religious studies)

Ombudsman Brittany Keys gave her report, noting complaints she has received ... people smoking too close to entrances, temperatures in buildings, daycare hours, not enough pressure in South Tower shower heads, hand sanitizer taken out of some of the buildings, etc...

Vice President Akeya Carter-Bozman announced her picks for committee chairs ... all passed the senate ... they are:

Dining committee - Katlyn Amos
Publications committee - VACANT
Publicity committee - John Dunn
Safety committee - Russell Christian
Technology committee - VACANT
ADA committee - Jenn Smith
Housing committee - VACANT
Judiciary committee - Ashley Green
Tuition & Fees committee - Curtis Kearns
Multicultural Affairs committee - Akeya Carter-Bozman & Brittany Keys
Green Sustainability committee - Gary Thompson
SGA Affairs - VACANT
Higher Education committee - Ashley Hicks

The Judiciary committee needs 3 senators & 3 justices on it ... Akeya announced Ashley Hicks, karina Rahall, and Katlyn Amos as the 3 senators, but that was shot down due to all 3 having the same Greek affiliation ... Hicks & Amos were replaced by Jenn Smith and Russell Christian ... the 3 justices were announced as Chad Sisk, Grace Hurney, and Svetlana Ole-In-Ich [how it sounds phonetically, unsure how to spell it]

Those committee chairs all look like they'll do a decent job. Historically, the two committees that don't get much done are the Publications committee and the Publicity committee. Nobody is chairing the Publications committee, and I have no problem with that. I can't remember the last thing that group did. I'm hopefull that Dunn can get do some good things with his committee. The incident with naming the 3 members of Sigma Sigma Sigma to the same committee (one that requires no conflicts of interest) is just one of those goof ups that shouldn't have happened. That really seems like an instance of poor planning - it would have been so easy to check that out. It's very uncharacteristic of Akeya and hopefully it was just a one-time slip up.

President Jeff Yeager's report was next ... He appointed Jamie Riker and Adam Pauley to Freshman Senator positions ... He also appointed somebody as a Senator (didn't get their first name, last name was Smith) ... He also appointed Katie Alvarez as a Senator ... He selected Stephanie Lambardo for a Justice, but she has to go through a selection committee before the senate can vote on it ... Yeager noted that Business Manager Belcher met w/ Stephen Rowe and Dr. Flanigan about keeping the library periodical room open past 10 p.m. ... He got punching bags in the Fitness Center ... He has sat in on meetings for a new Student Center Director ... He is serving on Dr. Becker's Budgetary committee for the entire University ... an "Athletic Liason" position for the SGA is open ... he has appointed Matt Belcher to serve on the University's committee to find a permanent Vice President of Business and Finance

I'm not sure exactly what the "Athletic Liason" is. I know Wes Prince appointed somebody to the position last year. I'm sure it will help bridge the gap between athletics and the SGA. How? I don't know. Dr. Becker's Budgetary committee is something I'd like to know more about. Hopefully Jeff will give some periodic reports of what the group does - if he's able to.

* * *

There was some Old & New Business. You'll read about that in The Concordian on Wednesday. I won't bore you with the details.

Remember, I import these blogs into Facebook. Facebook gives you the option to "tag" people in your note, sending the person an e-mail notification. I generally tag people for two reasons - 1) if you are mentioned by name, I try to tag you & 2) if I think you will find this interesting, I will try to tag you.

If you're tagged & don't want to be, let me know & I won't tag you in the future. If you're not tagged & would like to be in the future, also let me know.Questions/thoughts/complaints/suggestions/etc... are encouraged.

There is a comment feature on this blog, and I don't mind if you use it. Anonymous comments are allowed, but only if you keep the comment relevant to the subject & mildly-profanity free.

12 comments:

  1. Chris,
    I hate to continue the harping on this issue...but:
    Just because Ashley makes a point, and people subsequently vote according to her point, does not mean that they are just following her lead.
    Unless you can see into everybody's psyche, you cannot make this point. How do you know how Kiwa (or Nicole Coleman, Karina Rahall, or the quiet freshman in the back) was feeling when Ashley made her point? Maybe they already agreed with her, and just didn't stand up to say so.
    I'm not saying your point isn't valid: I'll be the first to refer to the senate as sheep. But over the past few years, I have definately seen a greater awareness about what is going on and you cannot call specific people out, because you don't know what they are thinking.
    Additionally, Kiwa brought up current issues but she was only giving examples. You want past examples? 1) Keith Pruitt disagreed with Jared Tice. 2) Jessica Cook disagreed with Danielle Richmond (remember Ben v. Rocky?) And speaking of that election, Danielle DEFINATELY disagreed with Tice.

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  2. Once again you've done an awesome job of covering the SGA. I am actually wanting to figure out this SGA stuff so maybe i should attend the next meeting. What are those budget money? Is that what we as students are giving the SGA? If so thats a little much dont you think? I can say I am proud of our President of SGA Jeff Yeager. He has already proved better then our last (The fresh Prince of Concord) I think the SGA is a very important part of Concord as it represents us, the students of Concord. I havent really paid to much attention to it my 1st two years here other then alot of the negative so I defently want to pay more attention and get a better understanding of how things are run. One last point, I was disapointed in the sports section of the Concordian last week. Concord's football team won their first game in a very long while and there was nothing about it other then the Editor's opinion. Im sorry but i beleive a big event like this needs to be covered more (thats what she said) I wish i had time to work for the paper but due to work and refereeing I can't. Maybe they'll get it right if Concord wins again.......I hope that is soon.

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  3. Chris,
    The Greeks to tend to stick to there organizations. They can prove it by being less "cligue" for now on if they disagree, but I seriously doubt they can.

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  4. Since Athletics and SGA have not been on the same page in the past (our 4 PM on Wednesday meeting time makes it hard for athletes to even attend), former President Prince created the position. As AG in the cabinet last year, I never heard of any progress being made. I'm re-creating the position because I want the concerns of athletes brought to the Senate, and I want someone who will be their advocate. It's a position that should perhaps be added to our bylaws for the legislative branch in the future. How can the SGA help athletes when we don't know about their basic concerns, apart from things like tailgating?

    As far as the Budgetary Committee goes, I probably won't be able to announce those sorts of things to the Senate; I'm sure it's confidential. If it's not, then I will have no problem reporting in the President's Desk blog.

    Also, we should have a new SC Director soon; the search committee recommended Anna Mills Hardy, the RD from Wilson/Sarvay. I look forward to working with her.

    One last point of interest--John Dunn resigned from Senator due to time constraints and the fact that he didn't want to chair a committee. So, I will likely appoint someone to take his place next week.

    See you guys next week,

    Jeff

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  5. Also, Chris, the girl who took the other Senator spot is named Cassidi Hall.

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  6. The clique mentality you mentioned does take place, but it is not confined solely to Greek organizations. In my (several) years attending SGA meetings, I have seen the same thing happen with groups of friends and the "vote with the majority" pack mentality of many who are new to SGA and/or college in general. Many times all that is needed to sway popular opinion is a charismatic, articulate, and passionate speaker, which Ms. Hicks may very well be. I have myself been rumoured to have sold ice cubes to Eskimos, to borrow a phrase from my grandmother, in my SGA heyday. :)

    That being said, and the benefit of the doubt being given to all involved, the possibilty of a major push to sway a vote by group of people is always a possibility and should be watched for by all members of the senate. In my time I have seen regularly attending organizational representatives replaced for a single meeting with a major issue up for a vote (budgetary, impeachment, major policy change, etc.) by one-time-only representatives who were obviously affiliated with each other and voting as a group. We're talking about large numbers here too, not just several members of one organization who happen to be representing other organiations at the time. I do no know if the current incarnation of the SGA has a policy in place concerning representative identity/constancy, but it may bear looking into if an issue arises.

    All of this is, however, simply obervations from an SGA oldtimer and are yours to read and/or disregard as you will.

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  7. To respond to "Anonymous" - you wrote:

    "You want past examples? 1) Keith Pruitt disagreed with Jared Tice. 2) Jessica Cook disagreed with Danielle Richmond (remember Ben v. Rocky?) And speaking of that election, Danielle DEFINATELY disagreed with Tice."

    Those are two examples over the last 4-5 years. Again, we're having a misunderstanding of what historically means - those are two exceptions to what has historically been the case in the SGA. Of course, we're going to have instances of two members of Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Sigma Sigma disagreeing (which is what you presented in your points).

    But, there are something like 12 SGA meetings a semester, and you gave two instances. Two examples out of nearly 50 meetings or so (if my horrible math skills hold up...).

    I'll even give you another example to help you - when Danielle Richmond ran for Business Manager against Bryan Henderson. That split the members of Sigma Sigma Sigma.

    But, it's not enough to change the fact that historically, those two groups vote and think alike in the SGA.

    Could it be changing this year? Maybe. We'll see what happens in the coming weeks and semesters. Has it been that way in the past, though. No.

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  8. Pat,

    Yeah, the sports section didn't do a great job of covering the football team's first win. But, I do think the sports section will become a bigger part of the paper. I'm going to blame the lack of coverage on a lack of communication between a young staff. Hopefully something like that won't happen again.

    Not to sound cocky, but I'm writing for sports now, so hopefully that will help things improve a little bit.

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  9. If anybody hasn't seen my Q&A with Concord's football coach, click the link below:

    http://chrisslater.blogspot.com/2009/09/concord-football-coach-mike-kellar-q.html

    It was conducted last week, after their first win but before their second win.

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  10. Barbie,

    Interesting point. I have also seen instances of people from all the different organizational groups having one or two underlying groups. They would use that as a way to sway the vote with it appearing to be legitimate.

    I haven't seen that in a while, though. I don't know if there are better guidelines in place to stop that, or if nobody's thought to do it.

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  11. "I Can't Believe It's A Journalist!"

    "Hi, I'm Chris Slater. You may remember me from such self-help films as 'Watch, Bitch, and Blog: How to Make Yourself Feel Important', and 'SGA Antagonism: The Road to Infinite Attention'"

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