SGA: Budgets and involvement

Without having seen it in advance and with less than five minutes of explanation, the members of the Student Government Association approved a budget for the more than $44,000 in Northern Kentucky University student fees allocated to it. However, another contentious topic caused SGA President Kevin Golden to end conversation and move on, a debate broke out about who can apply for office, and the new freshmen senators are itching to get involved in more but are being asked to wait.

The budget was approved unanimously by the members after it was briefly explained by Finance Committee Chair Chad Howe. None of the members of the SGA asked any questions about the budget.

The budget allocates nearly the same amount to be left to surplus as it does to provide student scholarships.

The largest expense is going to paying the salaries and stipends of the SGA executives and committee chairs, which is allocated at $22,120, or nearly half of the organization’s entire budget. The SGA is budgeted to spend $7,300 on clothing, catering and advertising this year. Office costs (supplies, phone, and printing) are budgeted at $2,900.

All of those expenses are compared with the $3,690 allocated to student scholarships, which is roughly comparable to the $3,564 it costs for one Kentucky student to attend NKU for one semester. The amount left to surplus in the SGA budget for carryover to the next year is more, at $3,778.

According to the SGA bylaws, the budget was supposed to have been approved within the first two meetings, but the presentation was delayed until the fourth meeting.

Members also debated various issues surrounding potential improvements to the Campus Recreation Center.

Golden solicited opinions on what improvements still need to be made at the center. Opinions varied around the room and included suggestions such as increasing hours, providing more hydration options, reopening the sauna, eliminating wait times and replacing the track with softer material.

Maintaining the equipment was also discussed by several of the students.

“Last time I went there, two things I normally do were broken which was nice so I left,” said Paul Bell, Student Rights Committee chair.

However, the elephant in the room reared its head as discussion continued and the issue of space was brought up.

“Do we want to advocate or just throw money into an old one instead of advocating for a new one,” Legislative Liasion Jamie Hazenfield asked.

University President James Votruba had mentioned the possibility of building a new center during his presentation to the SGA earlier in the semester. A new center would take years to build.

SGA President Golden eventually had to close discussion on the issue, leaving it undecided and asking for the leaders to solicit more opinions.

One chance that the average student may have to give input may result from a change proposed by Univeristy Improvements Chair Michelle Forlenza. She suggested that instead of having SGA senators hold office hours in the SGA office that they instead wear SGA clothing, take a pen and paper, and ask students passing through the Student Union what they think.

President Golden did not address that specific suggestion during the meeting, but emphasized throughout his report that the members of SGA need to be basing their opinions on the input of students from outside the room.

“I encourage you to go out and find out other students opinions,” Golden said. “That’s what our job is: to funnel down all those opinions into 40 opinions and then into one.”

Dean of Students and SGA adviser Jeffrey Waple called Forlenza’s office hours suggestion “a good idea.”

Additionally, students can get directly involved by applying for one of the three open positions for Senator. Applications are available in the Dean of Students Office on the third floor of the Student Union and are due Friday, Oct. 1.

SGA leaders still expressed confusion on whether or not current freshmen students may apply for the vacant senate positions. The issue first came up last week when the positions were being announced. Waple suggested that many of the students who were not elected in this semester’s freshmen senator race might be able to apply, given the high number of candidates.

Several members said that a student must have completed 12 hours to fill a vacant position.

This week, Chief Justice Shauna Prentice scrambled to provide an answer when directly asked by an adviser. Others again said that 12 completed hours are required, however, President Golden said the Constitution makes no requirements on presidential appointments and that freshmen may apply.

The SGA Constitution says that “all appointed Senators shall fulfill the same requirements as those for a candidate of the respective office.”

While an application for and approval by the Student Senate is required to represent students in SGA, no application or election is being required for the students who will be placed on the judiciary panel to review student disciplinary referrals at the university.

Assistant to the Dean Steve Meier will be independently choosing which students will serve on the judiciary panel. He took a list of volunteers of upperclassmen senators and executives for consideration.

As the meeting was ending and committee meetings were set to begin, Freshman Senator Griffin Frank asked to which of the three committees the new freshmen senators should contribute. Vice President Danielle Hawks instructed them not to attend any of the meetings and said they would be appointed to a committee upon completion of their first project. None of the freshmen senators attended a committee meeting.

For the fourth session in a row, none of the outreach liaisons attended the SGA meeting.

Story by Jesse Call