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ISSUE 118 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/5/2004

One-time decisions

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor

Friday, November 5, 2004

Indecisiveness is in the air this season, and not only when it comes to picking political leaders. Here at St. Olaf our own student government representatives cant make up their minds. After having debated, discussed and argued amongst themselves for over a month, Senate has only decided how to spend half of its $100,000 surplus. After voting in favor of a proposal from Student Government Association (SGA) President Seth Heringer 05, senators have decided to redistribute approximately $50,000 to SGA branches and dole out the rest to individual student proposals, which are still under consideration.

Not only is Senate taking its precious time to come up with decisions, but it has also totally abandoned the idea of using the surplus money to benefit the entire St. Olaf community. Using the money to install a one-card system, put cable TV in dorm rooms or create an SGA endowment have been squashed. Now, various campus groups are stepping up to try and claim their share of the surplus. But how beneficial will this money be to St. Olaf students after it has been divided and spread thin among student organizations and individual proposals?

Unfortunately, the answer is that it wont be much help in improving the St. Olaf community as a whole. Right now the breakdown of monies being allotted to SGA is: $3,000 to SGA, $16,000 to Student Activities Committee, $8,000 to Political Awareness Committee, $5,500 to Student Organizations Committee, $12,000 to the Pause, $1,500 to Volunteer Network, $3,000 to Diversity Celebrations Committee, $500 to Board of Regents Student Committee and $500 to Alumni Relations Committee.

Senate is missing its opportunity to represent all students rather than a cloistered group of organization leaders. The most efficient way to spend the surplus is a utilitarian approach, using the money on something that will benefit the greatest number of students. This is the ideal opportunity to deliver the long-time promised one-card system. SGA has already assembled a committee to look into the one-card system; why not get the ball rolling by actually providing the issue with funding? Its a practical use of the funds and it would be easy for Senate to justify its decision.

Students have been waiting for the one-card system ever since it was promised to them last spring by Heringer and SGA Vice President Janine Wetzel 05. If SGA wants to continue its reputation of being straightforward with the student body, then it should focus on keeping its word with students. The long decision-making process and questionable use of surplus funds shows how poorly SGA is representing students. We look to Senate as our governing institution that will represent all students and address their needs. Its presence as a decisive body that has the power to effect change has been seriously lacking this year as senators sit and debate endlessly.

The bottom line is since we are half way through the semester and a quarter of the way done with the school year, its time for Senate to make up its mind. Senators need to stop acting like politicians catering to their constituents and start making tough decisions. Not every student proposal can be accepted and not every student group on campus can be pacified. Senators should start deciding what to do with the surplus, based on what would be best for the St. Olaf student body as a whole. Were still waiting.

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