Absence, apathy at budget meeting shows SG’s failing
Published: Thursday, April 5, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 5, 2012 03:04
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, Student Government (SG) passed the 2012-13 Activity and Service Fee budget, which came in at $13,595,429.
When handling nearly $13.6 million of student money, one might hope that SG’s student senators would take time to seriously consider the budget’s allocations, or at least attend the meeting.
Yet only 31 of the 58 senators — about 53 percent — were present, with no amendments made and little deliberation beyond questions such as why senators are not paid positions. If SG is supposed to represent student involvement in where their money is being spent, they failed their constituents by not giving the budget more attention.
Before introducing the meeting, SG Senate President Khalid Hassouneh told senators, “This is the biggest thing you’ll vote on. Make sure it counts. If it takes until 2 a.m., it takes until 2 a.m. Take all the time in the world.”
Yet the budget took less than an hour to pass, demonstrating apathy on the part of the SG senators. If senators had bothered to speak or show up for the budget deliberation, USF students could feel a little better about the way their money is spent, with a more than $700,000 increase in the budget.
Though most governing bodies abide by a quorum, a minimum number of members that must be present to conduct business, no such rule is clearly stated on SG’s website. If the Senate does abide by a quorum, leaders may consider raising it to prevent future embarrassing turnouts.
With only 15 potential Tuesday meetings, 31 members out of 58 showing up for this year’s most important is a disappointment and shows the lack of interest that senators have in response to a very weighty situation. If barely half of the members do not bother to show up to vote on “the biggest thing you’ll vote on,” there is no reason they should hold office.
Muhammad Shakir, one of the senators that was present, decided in all of the budget’s components to focus on “why aren’t senators being paid?” If the turnout for such important meetings remains so low, there seems to be no reason why the senators should be paid if they are not fulfilling their duties.
Perhaps there needs to be more involvement from a source outside of SG when it comes to passing something so important. Though it is up to USF President Judy Genshaft to sign the budget or reject it, historically budgets are signed by the president with little dissent. To pass a budget of $13.6 million in student money with less than an hour of discussion and only slightly more than half of senators present fails SG’s supposed goal — to represent the student population.
With every system, there should be checks and balances. In SG, there seems to be sweeping movements without any debate and with seemingly little concern. Such apathy will do nothing to benefit students and is a disrespectful use of their money.