Student Government accountability should be first priority

At [last week’s State of the U] I asked President Carvajal, “What do you see as the role of Student Government, and how do you see its role changing on campus over time?” While not appearing hard-hitting, this question strikes with precision the most momentous issue facing the student body in the coming year. Dramatic changes will reshape the nature of Student Government, and we are not positioned to handle them.

Next academic year, the increase in the SG budget will come into effect. I had voted no on the referendum and strongly advised against it. $10,000 for executive projects will double the SG budget, and, as of now, there is no oversight! The Treasurer may spend the money with no input from the Senate or the Supreme Court until after the money is spent. Last year I spoke with President Carvajal and he agreed that the new executive money needs checks and balances from other branches. I presented an oversight bill in the Senate this year and the Senate voted it down. This new money, along with proposed changes to SAFAC being entertained, could very well change the nature of SG from one of positive action and advocacy for the student body to one where we spend all our time fighting between constituencies about who gets what money. That is what occurs at other schools, like UF, and it gives rise to political parties and self-adulation that makes our government quite humble by comparison.

Accountability in SG is my greatest concern as senator. After years of trying to reform the government for greater transparency, fairness and self control, I see it burgeoning more than ever. Students should be concerned about their government, and they should also be concerned that they have a newspaper that does not infer character hastily for the sake of a story.

– Dan Ohrenstein, senior and
Apartment Area senator