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Five ways to Fix SGA

By Gary Duff Columnist

One year ago, I made the same decision as former SGA President Tevon Hyman, Rules Committee Chair Ben Schaeffer and Parliamentarian Sarah Sicard, did just a few weeks ago. I resigned from my Ethics and Conduct chairmanship in SGA.

The move was not prompted by a lack of ability to fulfill my job, but rather by the inability of SGA’s leadership. My sentiments were echoed with these recent resignations.

As the dust settled over all the sudden shifts within SGA, I’ve realized that it hasn’t changed its old ways.  Even when the organization decreased to a humiliatingly low count of senators that reached below a 20 quorum by the end of last semester, it continued down a path against the interest of its constituents. This was most recently seen on how they handled the case of Hofstra’s a capella groups.

I have benefited in some respects and in others, lost out to the power struggles that end up causing conflicts to spill over onto clubs.

If SGA wants to seriously consider reasserting its role as a template for others to look up to here are five things they could doing better:

1.  Reputation - When I speak to student leaders a lot of them tell me they aren’t fans of SGA because it does not have a good reputation. Who’s fault is that? If we were to pinpoint one person it would have to be the Public Relations Chair whose responsibility is to turn bad press into good press. Reorganize your Public Relations committee or fire its Chair because for the past two years this committee has failed miserably at communicating a message of trust to its audiences. 2. Fairness - It’s always important to speak your mind. Running for SGA is a similar expression of this right, so why not make the process easier? Did you know if you’re not a member of SGA that you cannot become President or even consider being Vice President? I think dashing those rules would provide the much needed shakeup this organization is looking for in leadership. When I proposed this election reform be put on a referendum to check student thoughts on the subject, the SGA President at the time told me it would be too risky to allow “outsiders” into the political system. It was voted down. 3. Transparency -Look up our Congressperson or Senator’s voting record and hold them accountable for it. SGA has no process for you to hold your representative accountable, by-and-large because no one keeps any record of who voted for what legislation or club approval. Pass legislation that will keep voting records on file for the public to see who is and isn’t one your side. 4. Incentive - SGA’s President has his own private budget.  I believe the President should cut a portion of his budget or consider providing a portion of the overall Appropriation Committee’s budget to create  two $2,500 scholarship awards. One for club leaders, and one for an SGA member that show exemplary character. This will drive competition for prizes, increase the number of potential delegates and keep a level of expectations for leaders who wish to win the scholarship. 5. Agenda Setting - The most fundamental one always centers back to an organization’s values and goals. The SGA needs to stop compromising itself and its values. When you choose to do what is expected rather than what is right, you end up in the moral dilemma that has shaped SGA for the past two years.

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