Last week Confluence, a student arts and humanities journal, approached Student Government [SG] Senate regarding the placement of a referendum on the Spring ballot that would lead to a $0.25 increase in the Student Activity Fee, which would provide the journal with about $2,250 per semester. Senate, however, turned down the referenda with a vote of 13 in favor, 19 against and one abstention.
The SG Constitution states that organizations must receive approval from Senate in order to be placed on the ballot. Yet, while the statute was put into the SG Constitution to prevent frivolous referenda from bogging down the ballots, Senate limiting Confluence from having a chance at potentially gaining student support is unnecessary. After all, there is only one other referendum on the ballot-one for WVUM.
Granted, some of the concerns that Senate expressed were understandable. Mainly, the amount of money spent on Confluence’s annual banquet seemed excessive. Yet, Confluence will not be requesting funding for such extracurriculars. Additionally, Senate was concerned that few students actually read and submit articles to the journal. After all, there are only 300 copies printed and only 14 submissions were received last semester. This is a valid concern.
Yet, Senate also wanted to know why Confluence wasn’t doing more fundraising. To this we must ask, when was the last time you saw SG holding a bake sale? Student organizations should work to receive their funding, yes; however, few, if any, organizations are expected to support practically their whole organization on money from car washes and bake sales.
How well can the senators represent the student body if they obviously seem so out of touch? They turned down a referendum for Confluence, citing that it didn’t have enough impact on campus. However, in about a week, various senators and other students have gathered a petition with 500 signatures necessary to get the referendum on the ballot. This shows that students do, at the very least, want to have the choice to vote on the issue. Next time, Senate should check with their constituents before making such brash decisions.