As members of Student Government (SG) discuss the more than $14 million in student A&S fees for the annual budget they are responsible for allocating, they continue to be distracted by the allegations being slung in the childish parody of politics they are tied up in.
Perhaps those in SG have been watching too much of the Netflix series “House of Cards,” because they have used this semester to stretch the bounds of legal and ethical conduct to the point where they have used every trick in SG statutes to cause conflict among themselves.
In two months, SG has held two campus-wide elections, an SG Supreme Court case, an appeal to the Dean for Students, and now an investigation by an impeachment committee that revolves around alleged coercion and blackmail.
Perhaps it is the inflated ego some have in SG that has caused these problems.
During the student body general elections in February, the SG Supervisor of Elections told The Oracle that SG is not bound by Sunshine State laws, a conclusion he came to based on advice from the university’s
“SG is not an agency as defined by Chapter 119, however, the USF SG has voluntarily agreed to make its records public and hold open meetings while respecting the privacy statutes regarding students,” an email from Associate General Counsel Joanne Adamchak in February stated.
While some in SG believe they have a higher calling than the state, they should at least believe in the student voice.
In both student elections, student body president-elect Jean Cocco received the most votes, first with 48 percent of the 4,928 votes in the general election and then 52 percent of the 3,651 votes in the runoff election.
However, that still wasn’t enough as SG members filed a number of trivial grievances to disqualify Cocco.
This was later appealed in an SG Supreme Court case, which was then appealed to the Dean for Students Michael Freeman. Both maintained the outcome of the student vote and Freeman even used his decision to condemn some of the actions of SG.
“The students have been forgotten in a high stakes contest of student leader winners and losers or blame and shame,” Freeman wrote.
After Freeman’s ruling, SG has further begun to unravel as senators have started a game of impeachment of the Supreme Court, which may have been sparked by an unauthorized recording and a senator allegedly being blackmailed with the recording.
Maybe SG is modeling its governance after the U.S. National Security Agency, because right now it is losing the trust of students. Getting more involved with students is something almost every elected SG member runs on during his campaign, along with truth, honesty and transparency.
This is something all members of SG should be reminded of, and they should all practice what they preach.
This farce has become an immature imitation of politics rife with finger pointing, closed-door conversations and accusations of coercion, blackmail, abuse of power and more. While any of those claims may prove to be false in the near future, one allegation against SG that seems to be almost certainly true is that of incompetence.