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ISSUE 118 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/24/2004

Surplus spending

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor

Friday, September 24, 2004

Despite across-the-board budget cuts and a $2,500 tuition increase, the Student Government Association (SGA) is still in a state of financial uncertainty, but not the kind you would think. SGA recently announced that there is a budget surplus of nearly $100,000.

Rather than bicker about how this could have happened in the face of the Colleges fiscal difficulty, we feel that addressing how to disperse the excess revenue is more constructive.

But before the masses weigh in, SGA must propose possibilities for the surplus. After considerable thought, we have a few suggestions, any one of which would be a worthwhile use for the extra money. First, the surplus could finally end all the speculation and heresy surrounding the one-card system. The implementation of this oft-proposed idea was a campaign goal of current SGA President Seth Heringer 05 and Vice President Janine Wetzel 05. By making the change, which estimates show will take about a month and cost between $90,000 and $120,000, the SGA leaders can keep a promise to the voting public, and give students the convenience of having one card to take care of all on-campus needs.

Second, SGA could make significant strides towards equipping all rooms on campus with cable television. A vast majority of colleges and universities provide their students with basic cable programming while St. Olaf does not even provide the bunny ears many students use in a feeble attempt to get reception. The most recent survey, performed in 1999-2000 by the Residence Life Sub-Committee of Senate, found about 60 percent of the student body wanted cable and half of the people that wanted it were were willing to pay for it.

Finally, why not use the money for something that will pay immediate dividends? With the striking political divide on campus and the approaching presidential election, SGA could use the surplus to lure more high profile political speakers to campus. This would help bring the issues surrounding the election closer to all students. Since we cannot turn to cable television for election information, SGA could instead present the issues in a more tangible way.

No matter which way SGA decides to spend the money, an immediate decision must be a top priority. SGA should avoid needless deliberation that could come from relying on Thursday Senate meetings and Talkback Tuesday forums to gauge student opinion. Instead, SGA must be proactive and employ methods such as online surveys and open forums to comprehensively judge student opinion.

After all, the student body will be eagerly awaiting a decision since we dont have any cable TV to keep us occupied in the meantime.

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