SGA and SPB should sever ties

Tom Hyde - Staff Writer

Since high school, I have attended dozens of leadership conferences throughout the country and I have seen many student governments and met many student leaders.
As a member of the Quinnipiac Student Government Association, I can say that the SGA is uniquely organized and highly functional, successfully monitoring and funding dozens of student organizations on campus.
The Student Programming Board (SPB) is the largest organization on campus, has a representative seat on the Student Government Executive Board, and has a budget that exceeds $150,000 annually.
Many wonder if the relationship between the organizations is biased in favor of unequivocal financial support for the programming board, although this objection is mainly speculative.
Even though the SPB is responsible for almost all of the largest social and cultural programs on campus, its role within SGA is unnecessary, and the two entities should be split up in order to make the organizations operate more effectively.
Originally, the idea of merging programming with the SGA was proposed to initiate interest in the new Social Programming Board [now the Student Programming Board], an up-and-coming organization on campus.
Since that time, the SPB has developed into an elephant of an organization, combining innovative student leadership development with endless student programming opportunities.
For those who want to get involved on campus, but are unwilling to partake in political squabbles on the Student Government Association, SPB offers real leadership experience. That having been established, its relationship with the SGA needs to become less involved, as both organizations could operate more efficiently independent from one another.
The role of the Student Government Association has come under scrutiny in the past several weeks via blazing editorials in this newspaper. Although many of the articles written were uninformed and unsubstantiated, the issue that I am raising here was also pointed out by other students.
It should not be the job of any student government to program entertainment activities. In addition to the SPB, each SGA class cabinet is expected to program two events for their respective classes. For example, the junior class will be organizing a second annual turkey dinner for the class of 2004 in November.
Should the role of the governing body on campus be to dish out turkey and pumpkin pie, or should its cause be a bit loftier? Now, nobody mistake me, please. I think everyone deserves turkey, and yes, even some free pie. I object only to the precedent that these programming responsibilities have fallen onto the Student Government Association and not another organization.
What’s wrong with the SGA programming these activities, one might ask? Well, first and foremost, the student body is losing out on meaningful improvements in the quality of student life.
The administration looks at Student Government and primarily sees an organization of “nice kids” who do “nice things” on campus – not the legislative body on campus that assertively represents students’ views.
Of course the relationship between the SGA and the administration runs deeper than this categorical statement, but the fact is that the SGA has not made itself as powerful as it should be.
While we are spending our time thinking about programming activities, we are forgoing the possibilities of providing exceptional leadership on other, more important fronts. We should be polling the student body for issues, representing the students when their rights are jeopardized, and perpetuating an atmosphere of inclusion and upholding democratic idealism.
Not one of these ideas can be upheld if the better part of the Student Governments Association’s energy is spent programming class activities instead of focusing totally on student concerns.
I hope others will agree that there should be a separation of the two most influential student organizations on campus in favor of re-prioritizing the objectives of student government. After all, when was the last time Congress put on a national pizza party or decided to host a turkey dinner, instead of addressing issues like war, the economy, human rights and national security?
We need to demand more from our government at all levels, including the student government on campus.