Friday, January 29, 2010

01-27-10 Student Government meeting

I know what you're saying - "What the F? You don't go to Concord anymore. Why are you still going to the SGA meetings?"

Let me clarify a couple things. I haven't dropped out of school. I'm just taking a semester off. Unless something drastic happens, I'm 100 percent set on taking classes in the fall. I still consider myself a Concord student. As such, I consider what the Student Government Association does to be important.

One of the biggest things the SGA is looking into right now is tuition increases for the next academic year. They want to make sure tuition isn't increased too much for the fall. I plan on paying that tuition, so their efforts in making sure it isn't too high is a priority for me.

If you're not too familiar with what I do here, click here to check out the last "SGA Blog" that I did. It was from the last meeting of last semester. Usually, I will blog about that week's issue of The Concordian and the SGA meeting. I skimmed through the paper while I was at the meeting and don't really have an opinion on it yet.

I really don't have too much of an opinion on the SGA right now, since I'm still trying to catch up on what's going on. I missed the first meeting of the semester, and coupled with only being on campus on Wednesdays, I'm a little behind on what's going on. Give me a little time & I'll be back in the "swing of things."

I didn't take any notes at the meeting, like I usually do. I did send out a few tweets. For this blog, I'll just paste those tweets for you to check out and I'll also give my thoughts on the possible plans for this year's "Spring Fling."

The "buzz" from the meeting centers on Curtis Kearn's comments about Greg Quick, Interim Vice President for Advancement. I'm not going to talk about that yet. I don't have all the background information to offer anything other than a misguided opinion. I know some people like my misguided opinions, but I'll hold off on that subject... for now.

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My tweets are below. Sometimes a few more people use Twitter during the meetings. Click here for a good example of one of my "tweet blogs."

Terms:

"RT" means Re-Tweet. If you see "RT" before a message, that means I'm re-posting what somebody else said. You can leave your own comments before the "RT" in the message.

If a message begins with "@_______" that means it is a reply to that person. If I write "@buckskeen," I am sending a reply to Buck. It's still public and people can see my reply.

The tweets are below. The first one was sent out about 20 minutes before the meeting started.


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On campus. Gonna stop by the @CU_SGA meeting. No, I don't have a life.

I see a lot of girls at the CU_SGA meeting wearing Ugg boots. I thought they were smarter than that.

Oh man, I've missed Jenn Smith at the @CU_SGA. Sarcasm? You decide.

SGA Prez Jeff Yeager is at a BOG sub-cmtee meeting. Parliamentarian Gavin Ward is chairing the meeting until he gets back.

Sitting next to @Babich53. He's wearing cowboy boots. How cool.

Jeff Yeager just showed up.

That's what I thought. RT @Biff359: Why is Gavin chairing the meeting? Isn't it supposed to be the VP?

I feel weird sitting here & not writing anything down. Wonder if I should blog about this meeting?

Talk to Robert Elsaid (@relsaid) for more info on Higher Ed. Day. Important day.

Matt Belcher is saying something about @pizzahut & a "College Night." Not sure what that is, but sounds interesting...

.@lewisb01 is requesting that the alcohol policy be changed. If u r 21 & roommate is not, can't have beer. He wants that changed.

Taking a concensus to see if the @CU_SGA should get rid of "Spring Fling" & donate the $$ to Haiti.

I don't know about donating to Haiti, but I do know that "Spring Fling" has sucked every year that I've been here.

Jeff Yeager isn't chairing the Ethics cmtee any more. Some McReynolds guy just got appointed.

The VP is talking about the Tuition & Fees cmtee. Very important cmtee. Honestly, keeping up w/ that is 1 of the reasons I'm here.

Jeff Yeager mentioned that he & others gave the Board of Governors a PP presentation about what the @CU_SGA is & what they do.

It's important for the @CU_SGA to have a good relationship w/ the BOG. In addition to other things, the BOG determines tuition increases.

BOG Student Rep noted that Concord's audit went well & showed no wrongdoings.

BOG rep also noted that Concord now has a "strategic plan" now. It's been an issue for several years. Cool that it's finally happened.

BOG rep talked about how bad the residence halls are. I lived in them for 5 years & didn't think they were that bad.

Cool. The @CU_SGA is moving combine the Univ. Publications cmtee & Publicity cmtee. I've suggested this b4.


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There's the tweets. If you read them, then you know about the possible plan for this year's "Spring Fling" event. The Spring Fling is basically a week-long series of fun events, with a theme. Sort of a final party for the students before the semester kicks into "final exam mode."

It sounds cool, but it's not. It always kind of sucks.

At the meeting, Vice President Akeya Carter-Bozman - who is in charge of planning the event - wanted to take a concensus of everybody in the room and see how popular an idea it would be to get rid of Spring Fling this year and donate the money - roughly $12,000 - to Haiti relief efforts.

It wasn't a 100 percent unanimous decision to get rid of Spring Fling. I get the feeling some people voted for so they wouldn't have the stigma of "not wanting to help Haiti" attached to them. Like, "Really, you wanted to keep that money and not give it to Haiti? How dare you."

The important thing to remember here is that the money for the SGA comes from the students. If the students don't want to donate that money to Haiti, then they don't have to. Sure, it is the "noble" thing to do. But, just because something is noble doesn't mean you have to do it.

Here's what I think we should do -

Get rid of Spring Fling. It sucks every year. It's a lot of money wasted on "attractions" that students don't use. Last year, the only people to participate in most of the events were kids from Concord's Day Care. It's fun for the kids, but that's not what we're paying for.

Take the Spring Fling money and add it to the end-of-semester "senior gift" money. Basically, the senior gift is money left over at the end of the academic year. If they don't spend it, they lose it. So, anything that's left over is either put into a fund, or something is built with it.

Past years have seen senior gifts go towards the gazebo outside the Student Center, renovations for the library, and artwork purchased for several campus buildings.

Last year's senior gift money amount was in the neighborhood of $7000. That's been about average, but for the sake of this discussion, let's go lower and say we'll have $5000 left over at the end of the semester.

There was talk of maybe using some of the Spring Fling money to purchase some t-shirts and have a dance. Free Concord shirts are always popular, as I have several. Dances are okay. Let's go ahead and take some of the Spring Fling money for that. Let's say we have $10,000 left over from our Spring Fling fund.

At the end of the academic year, we're left with a ballpark estimate of $15,000 to spend on something around campus. If we want to do the noble thing, we could even set aside $1000 or $2000 or so and send it to Haiti.

Let's be realistic, that $12,000 won't really help Haiti a lot. If they get that money or not, things will pretty much be the same over there. But, $1000 or $2000 is better than nothing, and really, it's the thought that counts, since it's not going to do much.

With that much money at the end of the semester, it could really go a long way towards getting something done. A commuter lounge has been something people have talked a lot about. Maybe that could help spearhead that. That could buy some computers for somewhere. Jeff Yeager talked about wanting to replace desks in the classrooms. If the administration won't do it, maybe we could do it ourselves.

Or, take that chunk of change left over and give it back to students. Whatever happened to that "Students Helping Students" scholarship fund that Bill Lewis and the Q-Sack committee talked about last year?

Just putting a couple thoughts out there. If you agree or disagree, let me know. Keep in mind that those are all estimations of $$ figures. It could be a little more, or it could wind up being a lot less than $15,000. The actual numbers won't be known until the semester is nearly over and most of the spending is done. These are just rough estimations based on past figures.

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That looks like pretty much everything I have to share.

As always, here's the disclaimer:

I import these blogs into Facebook. That gives me the option to "tag" people, sending them an e-mail notification. I tag people for two reasons - 1) if I mention you by name & 2) if I think you will find this interesting. If you are tagged and don't want to be, let me know. If I don't tag you & you'd like to be tagged in the future, let me know.

There is a comment feature on this blog & I don't mind if you use it. It's cool to disagree, as long as it's kept civil. Anonymous comments are allowed, as long as it's relevant & mildly profanity free.

13 comments:

  1. As the unofficial proponent of all things community service at Concord, I am thankful that the SGA is considering using its resources to benefit those experiencing the enormous disaster in Haiti, and I believe any donation on their part will help to make a significant difference as that nation rebuilds.

    However, I have a suggestion. Why not take the money that you would just blankly donate to the effort in Haiti and use it for something that will benefit both the people of Haiti and the students of Concord University? $12,000 (or whatever amount the SGA could decided to give) can go a long way in developing a service learning or research project that could benefit the victims of this natural disaster. That is, tie your desire to help those in with your educational experience as a Concord student.

    Perhaps students could develop a trip to help with the relief or recovery effort in Haiti at an appropriate time. As this country begins the recovery process, they are going to need people as much as money to simply move rubble or rebuild homes.

    Students will get more from this than a simple donation. They will be able to see firsthand the enoromity of this historical disaster, be better able to study the response on both a local an international level, and become better engaged citizens of the world, all while making a difference in this particular disaster.

    If that's too far out of reach, the SGA could look at using their resources to conduct a research study on the disaster and what could be done to prevent the level of devasation from occurring again or what is the best long term response to rebuilding?

    Or, the money could be used to develop an at-home project that will beneift Haiti, such as creating food or supply packages, working to raise awareness of the need for donations (particuarly when the interest in the disaster dies down), or something else.

    These are just a few examples. Anything like that would be great and would allow Concord students to further their education on top of helping the citizens of Haiti. You may even be able to create an opportunity for students to earn academic credit while impacting their world.

    Take a look at it.

    Thanks,
    Jesse Call
    The annoying service guy
    Former Board of Governors member, Concord University

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  2. Once upon a billion collegiate years ago, AKA 2002, I had a share in planning the "Spring Fling" which we entitled "Spring Kegger". Then Vice President Levi Bragg planned the usual silly games/activities, but the SGA also sprang for kegs of rootbeer placed strategically around campus. The event was a big hit and the t-shirts, if you can find one to look at, were great. All that being said, however, it's pretty much sucked ever since. :) I think a donation toward relief efforts in Haiti is a noble idea, but there are also things closer to the campus/community that could be improved with twelve thousand large. Many local towns were affected by the recent flooding, as Bill Lewis can attest to. When it all boils down, "Spring Fling" is a very good idea which is often lackluster in execution.

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  3. Eh. Whatever you do, make a better impact with your money than drinking root beer. Give to local relief, develop book aid or other student scholarships, or fund campus improvements (as Chris suggested). That's just what I think. Want to spend a little on something fun? That's alright, but keep it in perspective. And see if you can achieve more than one goal at a time with that money.

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  4. I believe that the Haiti situation is a devastating thing, and all people should be moved to want to help them. However, I feel if people wanted to do something this drastic they should be smart about it. I was watching the Colbert Report the other day that had sponsored help from AT&T for matching funding for ALL donations to Haiti. The people who suggested this should have thought about how they could maximize their efforts before bringing this to the Senate. Many times the SGA has been caught with bias or impulsive actions. If I wasn't ill I would have been there to point out this fact, and I do apologize for missing.

    Having said that, I believe it would be better suited for the student to reevaluate these actions for the purposed funds to Haiti. The entire world, which has a much deeper pocket then our own, is pushing to help the victims of Haiti. It is more likely that the money has not become the issue as much as the need for help is now needed. If the SGA wishes to truly help the people of Haiti, they should contact the Colbert Report or AT&T to see if we could get matching funds or support to send student and/or citizens to help with the rebuilding and relief efforts of Haiti. I doubt it would be above the administration to offer course credits for the summer terms for such a project. This allows the students, whose money you are spending, and the cause of Haiti to mutually benefit at a MAXIMIZED effect for all parties. Just some food for thought.

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  5. I'm really liking Jesse's idea about possibly using the money as part of a longer-term plan that ties into both Concord & Haiti. I wouldn't have a problem with that.

    Robert said it & Jesse's words implied as such - the SGA has been a little "trigger happy" with wanting to give away this money. The thought seems to be, "We have money. They need money. Here's our money." It shouldn't be that simple and it shouldn't happen that quickly. Something of this magnitude needs to be thought out a lot more.

    I'd go so far as to suggest forming an AD HOC committee to look into what to do with the Spring Fling/Haiti money. Take a month or two and figure out the best course of action.

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  6. Also, I believe the general concensus looks to be that we need to get rid of Spring Fling.

    I blogged about my problems with Spring Fling last year and I didn't have a single person defend the Fling.

    I think it's time we either dramatically alter the concept of Spring Fling, or simply get rid of it.

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  7. I didn't get to go to the meeting, but I think donating the money to Haiti (in any way, in any amount) is not only a noble idea but a much better way to spend that money than purchasing three days worth of inflatables that only a few students use.

    Jesse Call's idea sounds fantastic, by the way.

    The only problem I see with adding the money to the senior gift is that at the end of the year, in the past years I was involved in SGA, the senior gift is always a "well, it's time to give out the senior gift. What do you guys want to spend the money on?" And then, the student senate looks around the room and tries to think of things we could do to "benefit" campus.

    That being said, I think that sometimes a genuine effort on the part of SGA to do something good needs to be seen by the rest of the student body. I saw an online poll for the Concordian about SGA and nearly half didn't approve of the way things are going--and to be honest, probably haven't for a while. There isn't much the SGA can do to stimulate some feelgood vibes for the organization, but they can let students know that their money, rather than going to an organization for a bus ride to wherever, is actually helping someone in need.

    Now, whether this should be Haiti, student-funded scholarships, community service programs, or any other good idea, I don't want to speak for everyone.

    So, why not put the question to the students? Not many people realize that a fee gets taken from their tuition to fund SGA. Find the most efficient and effective way to poll students about where they want that money to go (without going back in their pockets). If a clear majority want inflatables, so be it. But then at least rather than speaking for the students, the students are speaking for themselves and their dollars.

    (By the way, I realize that polls don't ever work out the way they are intended to at Concord, and my last idea probably will never come to fruition. But in an ideal world, I think it could work.)

    As always, Chris, thanks for doing the blogs. I won't be able to attend SGA this semester, so anytime you want to jot down a blog about it, feel free to tag me. :)

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  8. My Parliamentarian is the most experienced member of my staff (probably more so than me) with Parliamentary procedure. That's why he was chairing the other day, and that's why I always hand my chair over to him; I wish to maintain the high level of efficiency in the Senate. Considering he cannot say anything because he is the Parliamentarian, I think it's a fitting reason for him to be there too if need be.

    As far as the BOG presentations go, I am optimistic that we can keep tuition down this year based on my initial meeting with the subcommittee. We will see.

    I trust the Senate to make the best decision possible regarding where it wants the "Spring Fling" money to go. One thing is for sure though; ever since being elected to this position, I wanted to majorly cut the waste spending on Spring Fling. The majority of the students I know have always thought it to be a waste. It is time that this government becomes more responsible in order to help the students. Whether it is donating money to Haiti or finding a project to delve into here, that 11 K can go a long way to improving student life over having a playground in the valley for a few days.

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  9. Not to dispute what our current SGA President, Jeff Yeager, wrote above, but by allowing his Parlimentarian, Gavin Ward, to chair the meeting in his absence Jeff is overriding the electorate. The SGA Constitution and Bylaws states that in the event of a President's absence, his/her Vice President will chair the meeting. That's what the Student Body elected the Vice President, Akeya Carter-Bozman, to do. I voted for Akeya, knowing the duties enumerated to the Vice President position and expecting that she would fill those duties when required. So by passing it off to someone who was not elected, Jeff is defying the electorate.

    This has nothing to do with Gavin's capabilities (I completely agree that he is a very adept chair); it's a simple matter of constitutionality.

    Not trying to stir the pot or anything. It's really not that big of a deal, but it is black and white in the Constitution.

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  10. Ashley is right. In terms of the Constitution, the Vice President is supposed to chair the meeting. In a bit of irony, the Parliamentarian should know that, since his job duty is to make sure the SGA is following the Constitution.

    Although, things like this have happened in the past. Last year, when the SGA Secretary no-showed several meetings, the duties of Secretary were handled by Ryan Blankenship. To the best of my knowledge, he was an organizational representative during that point in time.

    There are a lot of little things that slip through the cracks, and this VP/Parliamentarian thing is one of them, much like the Secretary issue from last year. In the long-term picture, it won't make a difference who chaired the meeting for the first 15 minutes; but according to the Constitution, the proper procedure was not followed.

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  11. I attended the last SGA meeting on behalf of SOAP (formerly known as SAC) as I am now the VP for the organization. I read all the comments and your blog/tweets and felt the need to add another opinion into the mix of how to spend "Spring Fling" money in the future.

    I want to start by saying that I voted on spending all or half of this years money to go to Haiti. I think it is a great idea and I am all for volunteer services on campus and have participated in some in the past.

    As a member of SOAP and also from being a RA, I hear a lot of complaints about the lack of activity on campus for students. As most of you already know, our SOAP budget isn't as large as most other Universities simply because of student population and also our lower tuition costs.

    Each year, SOAP members attend two conferences. At these conferences, we are able to block book (book the same events with other Universities at a lower cost) events and entertainers to come to our campus. Usually these events and entertainers cost roughly around $1,500-$2,500.

    Every year we receive comments from students about getting a "big" act to come to our campus. Of course we would love to provide this to our students, but it simply isn't possible with our budget. If we did book a “big act” it would take almost all of our budget and there would be no other acts during the semester or year. Since the "Spring Fling" is funded by the students, I think an option that should be brought to the students attention is one to instead spend this money on a "big act" to come during the same time that "Spring Fling" would take place.

    As VP of SOAP I feel it is important to get student feedback about the acts we bring on campus and the activities we plan. I plan to set up a table by Subway before we attend our conference in Atlanta in mid Feb to poll the students on what kind of entertainment they would like to see. Hopefully this will result in a higher attendance at our events if we are able to book the kind of entertainment students want to see.

    Sorry for getting on the SOAP box (sorry, bad joke) on your blog, but I hope this stimulates some conversation in the future about an alternative to “Spring Fling”.

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  12. LoL "SOAP box."

    Concord has done the "big act" deal in the past. In the early 90s, Concord had both Sinbad & Vanilla Ice perform at Concord. It may seem like a joke now, but those two guys were pretty in demand 20 years ago.

    It would be good to get some more student feedback on the issue.

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  13. Going to agree. It's horrible what's going on in Haiti but if CU students want to give to Haiti, they can do it out of their own pocket, go on volunteer aid trips (plenty of those), and not, essentially, rob their own community for the opportunity for betterment as well. Call it selfish or greedy but the reality is that Haiti is getting a butt ton of aid from people and places that have much deeper pockets than the CU SGA. Someone mentioned businesses that are matching donations - I think that would be a better idea to donate anything to than just throwing $12k at the problem. Money won't benefit Haiti nearly as much as people taking time off of school to go and provide personal aid services through organizations that doing just that. Aid money to Haiti has proven in the past that it goes no where but the government's pockets and benefits the people very little, if at all. Read up on Haiti's history and you'll see.

    Setting up something that would benefit not only the local community as well as abroad is a good idea (re: Jesse Call). It would bring a lot more philanthropic efforts to CU and would be a staging ground for information on being able to do volunteer aid trips that people can get on for free or very minor fees (which could be subsidized or eliminated by the SGA).

    ReplyDelete