Is students’ money being used properly?

An odd question surfaced at the first student body presidential debate. The moderator asked all the candidates in attendance whether, if elected, they would stand up for the interests of students, even if it went against what the administration wanted.

Of course, everybody said yes. Any other answer would be a terrible blow to a campaign.The question that follows is natural: Did they understand the question?

To say that you will stand up to USF President Judy Genshaft, the Board of Trustees and the rest of the people who run the show at this University is not as easy as saying “yes” at a debate in front of a small group of members of various campaigns.

Every member of Student Government would probably have answered “yes” to the moderator’s question, but actions speak louder than words.

As the fall semester came to a close, the SG senate approved $7,000 in Activity and Service fees to co-sponsor a Gasparilla float with Genshaft’s office. In exchange, SG was allowed 25 students on the float.

Just a reminder: A&S fees are a part of students’ tuition payments.

What students really want their tuition money to be frivolously spent on silly things such as Genshaft’s “Yay USF” float?

In all fairness, at least the students on the float weren’t all members of SG. Student body President Maxon Victor said there were also student athletes, Greeks, students from multicultural organizations and graduate students.

Still, the question that needs to be asked is why at all? Is it just because Genshaft’s office asked them to?

In a given year, $7,000 is really only a small piece of the millions of dollars that SG handles, but that does not mean the money should be wasted because the president’s office asked nicely. Perhaps those thousands could have been spent on something that might directly benefit the student body.

In that instance, SG cozied up to the administration on a simple issue that would have been easy to stand up to. What about on a big issue with a chance for an enormous financial impact?

The BOT Finance and Audit Work Group meets today at 11 a.m. in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom and will discuss the huge parking fee increase that has been widely criticized in recent weeks.

It will be interesting to see which candidates are there to represent the students who are opposed to the increase and which think the administration is on the right track with it.

Approach the candidates when they are walking around asking for your vote. Ask the tough questions in person, and don’t take vague non-answers. Also, be especially weary of rationalizing the issues and being told that what the administration wants is the only way.

Presidential elections take place on Feb. 28 and March 1. You get to pick a new person to lead SG – make sure that person knows what it means to stand up to the administration.