As an executive officer with the Student Government Association (SGA), I had the unique opportunity to see how the SGA operates and interacts with UTSA’s upper administration. I have developed a unique understanding of the role SGA play here at UTSA.
SGA deals with Tuition and Fee proposals, which can happen every two years. This year was unprecedented. A student referendum hasn’t happened in 10 years at this scale and it even involved a student referendum vote for Athletics and Transportation Fees. These are the growing pains that come with our pursuit of being a Tier-One/R1 Research Institution.
Some concerns I and others from the organization have, are the powers SGA possesses in the form of Presidential appointments, which place students in certain positions and important committees. Take the tuition and fees process, which began and ended last Fall, of the 30 students who represented the committee, only 12 students (voting members) were present at the final meeting when they voted and approved the proposals to be sent to President Eighmy for consideration.
It was unfortunate and regretful that crucial information was not distributed and made easily available to the student body. Efforts were made in creating a “Student Voters Guide” for the Athletics and Transportation Fees that was included in the form of a hyperlink in the University wide email that was sent out the day of the vote. It should have been attached and made more visible. You can also find links to minutes and attendance for the whole process on the last page of the Voters Guide presentation: http://bit.ly/sgaVote
In the end, students made their voices heard, And I think we owe the unusually high voter turnout to something we use everyday – GroupMe.
For those who are unaware, our shuttles and busses have been operating at a deficit (in the red) and have been using funds subsidized from the Parking budget. Given that the proposed fee failed, it would not surprise me to see an increased cost to our parking passes, to make up for the new busses the school will have to purchase and new routes they’ll have to run.
White Supremacy Banner
Another event that happened this year was the issue of unauthorized banners and flyers around our campus, something that we as a collective body denounced for the messages behind them. A coalition of students was formed, but ultimately fragmented because of differences in political and ideological beliefs among individuals and student groups that attended. As issues arise from national discussions, in times of uncertainty, it is crucial when topics involve our safety, our education and our university that we leave our differences of opinion at the door and work and think together as Roadrunners.
The Student Action Coalition (SAC) was formed shortly thereafter and was tasked with providing viable options for the University to take from the issues we students raised from the banner incident.
One of those suggestions came in the form of increased security; more cameras were installed in and around campus, increased Public Safety Officers and more frequent patrols, especially at night. “Letter of Unity” http://bit.ly/UnityLetter
Yes, this is just a student government at a university, but even at this level, we should be taking it seriously. We must not forget that we are also here to better ourselves as students, citizens and future leaders of this country.
“We are the future we need to be.”
Many lessons were learned this year; there will always be opportunity to improve, room to grow and, of course, time to heal. SGA can be more efficient; however, students need to step up and contribute, get involved and be nosey because there might not be the same caliber of students to defend us the next go around.
Transparency is key. They’ll say everything is public information, but “they” benefit from you not digging deeper or even caring enough to seek out the information. I am a proponent on public accountability and ethical reasoning, and the Paisano is one of the few avenues where information can be shared unfiltered directly to students.