Wednesday, November 3, 2010

SGA Transparency

As I've written a few times now, I have a night class every Wednesday at 4 p.m. that has kept me from being able to attend Student Government Association meetings, which are at the same time. I didn't have to attend the Sept. 22, meeting of my night class, so I went to that meeting (which I blogged about here). Other than that, I have had to keep up with the SGA through secondary means.

The problem with that is that there aren't really any good "secondary means" around campus. There are three main secondary means of getting information about the SGA on campus - The Concordian, the SGA's Facebook, and the SGA's Twitter.

The Concordian is kind of here-and-there with its SGA coverage. Sometimes it's decent, sometimes it's not so decent. Those in charge of the paper don't see the SGA as being as important as I did when I was in charge of the paper. The paper seems content to mostly cover events in Princeton, Beckley, Hinton, and Morgantown that have little effect on Concord's main campus.

That's cool. I don't need The Concordian to find out about the SGA. The SGA have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts. I'll just go there...

Oh wait, can't do that. They don't update their Facebook or Twitter.

This was an issue last semester, as I wrote about it in an entry titled "Transparency." Here's the fun, full link -

That entry talked about how Jeff Yeager's SGA was not as transparent as he had promised. I also wondered why the SGA did not have a Facebook account. This was back in March. The problems seemed on their way to being a fixed after I posted that blog. A new Twitter account and a new Facebook account had been started.

The Yeager administration faded out and the Belcher administration took power this academic year. At the Sept. 22, meeting that I attended, the Technology committee gave a report. I don't remember who the chair was. I recognized her face, but I didn't know her name. She said something to the effect of "We're looking into ways to utilize the Facebook and Twitter."

In that "Transparency" entry I linked earlier, I wrote the following:

The key to making both of these accounts matter is to post relevant information. If they post nothing but weekly updates along the lines of "the SGA meets every Wednesday at 4 p.m. Stop by," then nothing will be accomplished. These accounts are for people who don't want to go to the meetings.

The Facebook account should publish the minutes in the "notes" section. A tweet should say, "Amendment 030310 passed. It [does this]." A Facebook status update should say, "What do you like about Spring Fling?" and let people get involved.

The biggest way for this to be seen as important is for the current SGA members to get involved. In that Spring Fling status I just mentioned, there should be 10 or 15 members of the student senate debating the subject. That shows the regular students looking at this, that the Facebook account is a great way to get informed about something, and also a good forum for the expression and discussion of ideas.

What have the Facebook and Twitter posted? The Twitter account hasn't posted anything since March 2, 2010. There are only two people who follow the SGA on Twitter - me and Robert Elsaid. The SGA only follows three accounts - me, Bill Lewis, and the old Concord SGA account that nobody ever deleted.

The SGA on Twitter is kind of a lost cause; I'll admit that. Some people just don't "get" Twitter. I'll just wave the flag on even trying with that.

The SGA's Facebook, though, that is a different game.

Why the SGA has no relevant or pertinent information posted on its Facebook account is beyond me. While I won't say that EVERY Concord student is on Facebook, I feel confident saying that NEARLY EVERY Concord student has a Facebook account.

Here's the last update from their page, which was posted Sept. 8:

SGA held a meeting today in the stateroom @ 4:00. It was announced that two senator positions are now open, one of the positons are for a commuter senator. If you are interested in being a senator please stop by the SGA office and pick up an application and return it as soon as possible. SGA meets every Wednesday in the stateroom at 4:00.

If you don't know much about what the SGA does, that update means nothing to you. It just boggles my mind that they can't update their Facebook in a way that can entice student involvement; or at the very least, just let students know what is going on.

There's nothing else to really say on the matter. A committee shouldn't spend months trying to figure out how to work a Facebook account.

Will things change? It did the last time I complained about this, for a little while at least. Will things change again? It would be in the best interest of the SGA and the student body if they did.

* * *

Here's my disclaimer (which used to be a constant in my blog but that I haven't needed to break out in a while):

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.


  1. Why not put forth an amendment to the duties of the secretary or VP to update at least the Facebook page? Copying and pasting the notes from the meeting (after being cleaned up of errors) is a non-task. Updating with pertinent bits of info is pretty easy as well.

    Transparency is a sublimely easy thing to achieve so long as the effort is made.

  2. The reason is very simple.

    We leave the Facebook account to the Publicity Committee to update. The Publicity Committee received a new chair today, Ms. Crystal Poe. In an explanation of her duties were an SGA Press Release and a Facebook update. I agree that it is imperative that students be informed. I do not cast blame upon any one individual or group, but this should be fixed under the newly appointed publicity committee chair.

    I am confident that she will do an excellent job and your points will quickly become moot as she will meet each of your challenges and quirks.

    Thanks for you updates and as always, I love to read and follow your blog,

    Dustin S. Blankenship
    Vice President

  3. It's good that there is now a Publicity committee chair. I'm sure she'll do a great job with managing the Facebook account... because there's nothing at all complicated about a Facebook account.

    That's why I don't understand how come somebody couldn't have updated the Facebook account in the absence of a Publicity committee chair. Or at the very least, posted a message saying, "Oh, btw don't come here looking for updates until we fill this committee."

  4. There's some interesting comments on the "Facebook version" of this blog (which is really just a link in the notes feature) on my Facebook page. Check those out if you haven't yet -

  5. I will admit this is mostly my fault. I resigned as committe chair because I got really behind. I got swamped with alot of things at once with personsal problems. I apolgoize for not doing a better job that is why I stepped down. It wasn't fair for me not to be able to devote the time I used to be able to into it. I apologize.