EDITORIAL: SGA fails to lead the pack

It’s been nearly four months since The Maroon’s last check-in with the Student Government Association, and now that we’ve circled back, the promises they made while campaigning remain unfulfilled.
President Deon Wilson and former Vice President Tyler Sanchez’s 2021 campaign was founded upon three structural points: transparency, student engagement, and accessibility. However, in their tenure, these promises have come up short.
With a budget of close to $150,000 per semester, more than 20% of the money goes to the organization’s cabinet salary. This could be justifiable if SGA was actually effective in governing the student body. Instead, SGA often acts like a club rather than an entity that leads and supports the students who literally pay for their leadership.
This issue was only amplified when SGA merged with the University Programming Board in the 2012- 2013 school year. While this may be an attempt to increase student engagement, as UPB hosts Wolf Pack Wednesday, Third Friday events, and other programming on campus, SGA should not be a programming board. They should represent and advocate for us to the university.
The Wilson-Sanchez ticket emphasized administrative transparency, yet they’ve continuously kept us in the dark. And now that Sanchez has stepped down, we are finishing out the semester with a different administration. We understand that life happens, but we’re concerned for our student body’s leadership.
Many of us don’t know what SGA has done, nor do we know what they’re supposed to do. One of their big campaign promises was getting the SGA website up and active, and with a launch two weeks before the semester ends, it’s too little too late – not to mention the countless number of errors and lack of information on said page. They had a whole year to build a website, and they couldn’t even do that right.
It’s SGA’s job to reach out to students and communicate about both their goals and their actions. They aren’t doing that. If they are, they aren’t doing it effectively because we can’t tell. They need to be consistent in order to be effective, and accomplishing small goals here and there doesn’t cut it.
Many of the seats in the senate remain empty, which clearly means there needs to be more efficient student outreach, or really, any kind of outreach at all. People don’t want to be a part of SGA and with good reason.
Their systems are overcomplicated with an excessive amount of committees and responsibilities, and we don’t see it working. What are the purposes of all these committees? Why establish new committees when your current ones are missing chairs and failing to accomplish any change?
We have yet to see a COVID-19 committee, mental health days, gender-neutral bathrooms, and every bathroom on campus equipped with menstrual products — all things the Wilson-Sanchez cabinet promised to achieve.
SGA President made $16,573 this year, and vice president made $15,866. Many of us Marooners work for free and have to hold outside employment to make ends meet. We are in the office into the morning at times to get our paper out to you each week. It’s insulting to see this money allocated to people that “smile and wave.”
To further emphasize the lack of ability to accomplish basic governmental tasks, SGA elections are a month behind their typical timeline. We don’t know our leadership for next semester, and we have one week of class left.
It’s time for SGA to stop talking about initiatives and start taking initiative to get things done on campus. We deserve a student government that serves us, especially since we’re the ones paying their salaries. Elected officials are supposed to be representatives of the student body, but instead, they are acting as a club with no responsibilities.
At the end of the day, SGA gets six figures of cash a semester. They are spending our money, and we still don’t know what they’re doing. If their job is to serve students, and said students have no clue what they are doing, how can one argue that they’ve properly done their jobs?
SGA is supposed to lead the Pack, but they’re falling behind, letting the university push them around in a baby stroller. We understand that SGA faced many setbacks this academic year, but for once, they could show up consistently and choose to do something, anything for students.
While we can’t find how much we were charged this year (talk about transparency), in the 2019-2020 school year students were charged $120 a year for an SGA fee. Do you feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth? We don’t.