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Opinions, Student Government Association
SGA should follow constitution
April 3, 2012

SGA should follow constitution

By Mesquite Editorial Board

A&M-San Antonio’s Student Government Association has been missing in action this semester. Whether it is the uncertainty of when and where their meetings will take place or the carelessness that seems to surround their election policies, their disorganization cannot continue to go unnoticed.

Compared to SGA’s formerly outstanding leadership, student representation and community service, this semester’s performance is severely lacking.

Few students know about SGA or its role on campus, so let’s review. SGA’s constitution provides an overview in Article I:

1. To provide for the exchange of information, ideas, and opinions on behalf of the student body.
2. To review and make recommendations on matters proposed by students, administrators, faculty, and staff.
3. To promote cooperation and partnership among the students and the University faculty, staff, and administration.
4. To promote scholarship and the interests of student life.
5. To develop positive citizenship and leadership to the University and local community.”

At the moment, SGA does not appear to be meeting any of these goals.

Last week it was announced that elections for new members have been postponed until fall.

After interviews with SGA President Zaira Rodriguez and Laura Pantano, assistant vice president of student engagement and success, we learned the postponement was because of poor advertising, which then resulted in a lack of interest in the elections as a whole.

Originally, applications were due March 9. However, because of the lack of publicity and outreach to the student body, SGA was then advised to extend the deadline to March 23.

With no further promotional efforts, the extension proved to be ineffective and pointless. On the heels of their decision to push back the deadline, Pantano (in consult with SGA and other administrators) decided to move elections to fall.

SGA bylaws contain an election code. Section I states the SGA Election Commissioner is to oversee the process to ensure its fairness. Responsibilities of the commissioner include informing campus media and providing notice 10 school days before election on which positions are open, how and where to file and filing deadlines.

We don’t know the full story on how SGA publicized elections but we do know officers decided to leave applications on the cafeteria tables and in the office of student engagement and success. That’s not much of a publicity effort and is not in accordance with the bylaws.

Pantano revealed that of the 30-50 applications dropped in various locations, only three were turned in. The rest of the applications had disappeared completely by the beginning of the following week. Both Pantano and SGA President Zaira Rodriguez speculated that A&M-San Antonio’s overnight cleaning crew may have thrown them all away. However, neither can be certain.

To SGA’s credit, they do lack an office space or dedicated bulletin board to place notices (a bulletin board is mentioned in SGA’s official documentation as a place to advertise events). But, they do have access to the digital screens, opportunities to send out campus wide emails, and officers who could promote their organization before and after classes. Access is there; energy and leadership is not.

SGA is described in the constitution as the “official advisory body of the students to the University administration, faculty and staff” (Section 6). As such, we urge officers to review the constitution and bylaws and have an internal review before there is reason to introduce another important portion of the bylaws: Article IV, officer qualifications.

Stop making excuses. As students, we all share outside obligations. We balance work, school and family. But, we have an obligation to each other to meet our responsibilities. And we do this for the benefit of everyone involved.

To the student body: Step up in the fall and apply to be part of SGA. We need responsible students who will keep us up to date on issues and events (more than the three days that the University gives us via jaguar email).

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  • Shaun Springfield

    Excellent article everyone. As the campus newspaper, it is important for you to call out groups, like SGA, when they are failing to live up to the ideals that they established. You are right to call them out for not doing everything they can to work for the students.

    This was solid work and a good read.

  • Kirsten Verdi

    Great article, keep up the good work, mesquite 😉

  • Not impressed

    Yellow journalism at its finest. Bravo mesquite for airing a rather uninformed and completely unobjective view shrouded in the safety an “editorial” which essentially allows a publication to say whatever it really feels.
    If there was ever a reason to ignore the mesquite before, students certainly have one now. Well done… the Sun and National Enquirer would be proud.

    • This editorial followed a story about SGA. Did you read that article?

      • Not impressed

        Yes, I did. And in that article, there were a few moments where the sensationalism gave way to real fact reporting. I have no reason not to believe the reasons SGA gave for their inability to accomplish many things in the past two semesters as being valid and understandable. The university is growing, we transitioned to a new campus, and many students are split between at least two of the three campus locations. Add to that the realization that many members (if not most) of our student body are working adults with families, whom might bet taking night classes, or otherwise have other obligations that sounds like it makes arranging meetings difficult and I don’t see why this was even newsworthy. I guess you have to justify your budget or get readership up or something of that nature.
        To me both articles in tandem were a double cheap shot at an organization that to anyone’s knowledge (least of all my own) have probably done their honest best to accomplish whatever it is they have managed to do so far at a school where getting a tutor is an exercise in futility and forming solid, consistent study groups might as well be like trying to organize a nude Shakesperean three man acting troupe on campus. I think people these days, especially in certain areas of the student body (SGA included to a degree) spend far too much time complaining about frivolous failures instead of focusing on successes and recoverable errors that can be turned into successes with a little extra effort.
        Instead of being motivational, this article probably accomplishes the opposite. If I was in SGA I wouldn’t want anything to do with the mesquite, SGA, or any entity that is connected to the university ever again other than to obtain my degree and bail. Perhaps that’s what is already happening, given the low membership or inability to get people to apply for the elections as I saw in another story or posting on the mesquite website.
        Either way, it’s beyond my ability to really care or exert energy over. I’ll just simply cease wasting my time reasing the mesquite and will advise others to do the same… you know, before you guys start publishing hit pieces on individual students for their fashion or something.

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