SGA seeks control of funding

The Student Government Association may approve a new constitution that would give it sole control over the funding of the Activities Programming Board (APB), Residential Hall Association (RHA) and Student Media, and would implement several other controversial changes.

The bill, first proposed at the SGA retreat Jan. 16-18, says, “All recognized student departments shall be permanently funded through the accounts of the Student Government Association. Recognized student departments shall be the Activities Programming Board, Student Media, and the Residential Housing Association.”

“I wanted to make it so that there’s really one programming body, and there’s more communication between those organizations,” said SGA Senator Mike Tobergta, who wrote the bill over the winter break.

He said the organizations would retain autonomy under the new constitution.

“[The bill] gives the organizations a representative in student government, and it also gives the student body, as a whole, a representative in those organizations,” he said.

The RHA president and APB executive director would be vice presidents on the SGA executive board under the proposal.

There would be no student media representative in SGA.

“When you think of government, you don’t want government necessarily to interfere with the media,” Tobergta said. “And thereby, you don’t necessarily want somebody in the media being involved in the government.”

Tobergta said the RHA president would still be elected by students who live on campus, and the APB executive director would now be elected in a normal SGA election.

He said the goal of SGA management of RHA funding is to increase the quality of campus life and activities for residential students.

He said a major reason for drafting the constitution to include APB was so that a student representative would be executive director of APB. Stephanie McGoldrick, APB adviser, currently serves as its exective director.

Tobergta, a former APB member, said he resigned for “personal and professional reasons” after its Meal of Fortune event last semester.

He said the reasons included lack of leadership in APB, and its vague constitution.

“The main focus that I had with [the constitution]…in a way, it was kind of personal, with my experience in APB,” Tobergta said.

“They have so much pride, which I respect. They have pride being at APB, and they don’t want anybody to interfere with that. And that’s not what I’m trying to do,” he said. “It’s all about student empowerment. There’s never talk of absorption or anything like that.”

The constitution would also create a Student Funding Panel to replace the Student Fee Allocation Board. The panel would be composed of four elected SGA officials and Dean of Students Kent Kelso, according to the proposed constitution.

“We’re already in control of the funding as it is now, with the fee allocation board,” Tobergta said. “[The changes] give students control over the money. A lot of people assume that money is where all power is, and that’s sort of true.”

The fee allocation board is composed of five students, appointed by SGA President Chris Pace, five administrators, and Pace. It allocates funding to student organizations.

He said the current fee allocation board could be biased in allocating funds because its members are appointed, not elected. He said that having SGA officials on the new funding panel would eliminate the risk of bias.

The bill would also restructure the SGA executive board by consolidating jobs. The positions of vice president of public relations, vice president of academic and student affairs, and vice president of administrative affairs would be eliminated. The offices of vice president of residential affairs, held by the RHA president, and vice president of programming, held by the APB executive director, would replace them.

Tobergta said this is a cost-saving measure, because paying the current number of executive board members is costly.

“There needs to be a cut in waste,” he said.

Students holding the new positions will receive stipends from RHA and APB, not SGA.

Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Trey Orndorff and Senator Sheree Davis sponsored the bill, which Tobergta said was modeled after similar practices at Eastern Kentucky University and Murray State University.

The bill will be presented to the senate at the Feb. 2 SGA meeting. If the senate approves the bill, it will then be subject to a campus-wide vote in a special election.

If a majority of students vote for the bill, it will be presented to the Board of Regents for final approval.

SGA and Kelso called a meeting Jan. 27 with members of Student Media and APB, but canceled after all members had appeared. Kelso would not give a reason for the cancellation, and no meeting was rescheduled.

To see a copy of the proposed consitution, visit the SGA office in UC Suite 208.