EDITORIAL: We need more than a sweatshirt

SGA’s merch drop highlights their priorities


Jackie Galli, Editor in Chief

While the newly unveiled student government merch is fire, it has reignited some age-old concerns about what is a priority for our student government.

The Student Government Association spent $2,693 on this merch drop. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s $1,193 more than the budget request for the Loyno Flea Market last semester, which SGA president, Stephanie Oblena, vetoed. The flea market, which SGA hosted in 2021, was meant to directly benefit student artists and serve as a fundraiser. In 2022, Oblena vetoed the flea market because she claimed it would not directly benefit the students and was “not a priority,” unlike free merch reminiscent of Steamboat Willie. Flea market organizer Adele Colson, however, said the situation was reflective of an overall lack of representation for art students, and student artists, within SGA.

Despite not receiving SGA funding, the flea market ran last semester with fundraising provided by the Loyno Costume Shop, but the concerns about the veto of its funding from SGA remain. And those concerns have heightened in wake of this new merch drop. Why is one project more important than the other? When is student government reaching out and actively seeking the input of the students that they are meant to represent?

Oblena promised the student body that “we’re here to work for you and absolutely want to hear your needs.”

What we need is the active listening to students that was promised and the care that each student’s interests deserve.

We want an SGA that fights for students against the administration and uses the immense power they wield to make the campus better for all students. We want an SGA that fights for construction transparency, student rights, and equal representation of students from all areas of campus.

If you were to ask students on campus what SGA does, most of them wouldn’t have a clue aside from the occasional event planning. This is bad marketing, which something like a merch drop won’t fix. Sure, the new merch will increase the number of times people read the words ‘student government’ on campus. But what experts like Butch Oxendine, the American Student Government Association Director and Founder, recommends is increasing the presence of SGA members across campus with things like having senators shadow club meetings on campus and consistently polling student sentiment. These, among other things, are what could improve the campus-wide presence of SGA in meaningful ways. More meaningful than school spirit events or free tote bags.

In the wake of budget cuts for SGA this year, whose funding is down 9%, it was admirable to see both the president and vice president of the organization take a $2,000 pay cut during the fall semester of 2022. But that still left them with around $6,000 each for the fall alone, which includes a housing stipend.

A portion of every student’s tuition pays for SGA salaries and budget. More than just a small portion of the student body should know what SGA is doing to benefit them. The last newsletter students received from SGA was in October of last year. Instagram shouldn’t be the only place for students to get regular updates about what SGA is doing and when they will meet.

Students, don’t get blinded by the trendy, free merchandise (although, if we’re being honest, you paid for it whether you get some or not). Demand to be heard. Demand to be represented. Demand the promises made by your SGA representatives be fulfilled to the level you deserve before their time runs out.