For the past few years the Student Association has been a bacteria that students choose to watch fester. Doing nothing to excise this bacterium, students have allowed it to grow into the boil on the butt of this campus that it is today. And the growing of this boil, under Kris Hart’s presidency, certainly shows no signs of slowing.
While coupon books and community outreach are quaint activities of the only official student advocacy group on this campus, they should not have been the focus of Hart’s initial agenda in the SA. What Hart should have solely focused on was cleaning up the mess that was the SA before and during his year in the SA Senate. Hart knew when he took office that the SA has a credibility issue, yet he has done nothing to restore students’ faith in the organization. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself.
For those of you who try to ignore student politics on this campus, which I can certainly understand, let me inform you why the SA has become a joke on this campus. Last year, the SA found itself in an ethical dilemma. According to the SA’s Vice President of Judicial and Legislative Affairs, certain members of the SA, namely, current SA Senator JP Blackford, held a private party with alcohol. While there is seemingly nothing wrong with this, it should also be taken into account that Senate members held this party using students’ SA fees to pay for the alcohol. After an attempted cover-up by high-ranking members of the SA, this information finally became public and soon became a laughable story in The Hatchet, a paper distributed to residents throughout the District. That’s right, even District residents got to laugh at our SA.
While this story is only one instance of elected leaders’ disregard for the students of this campus, it exemplifies how poor SA members’ understanding of ethics actually is. Seemingly unaware that spending the money that most students unwillingly contribute to the SA along with their tuition is wrong, these leaders – many of whom remain in power in the SA – chose to get drunk on their constituents’ dime. But maybe I am just bitter because I was not invited to the party.
While I do not know if Hart enjoyed the alcohol I helped buy for the SA’s “mixer,” I do know that as president this year it is his responsibility to create an ethics policy that governs the SA as a whole. Hart is well aware of the mess the SA created for itself last year. In fact, he often reminded us during his campaign that he was a key player in resolving it. However, this year he seems reluctant to acknowledge this mess and instead seems fairly willing to function within flawed SA governing policies that could very well lead to future problems. But with the way the SA functions, Hart may not have to wait for the future.
Right now, because the SA has no coherent ethics policy, Senator Blackford sits on the SA Senate Rules Committee. This is the same committee Blackford was chair of prior to his resignation after the alcohol story became public information. This is the same committee whose rules Blackford helped frame, only to later subvert when he unethically used students’ money. This is the same committee that governs the SA and sets its ethical policy. This is the same committee that has made the SA a joke. This is the same committee that should be renamed the Irony Committee of the Student Association.
Because of Blackford and the SA Irony Committee, Hart needs to take action to bring credibility to the SA. While I am very pleased to get a discount at many area businesses, I would still rather have a workable government than a coupon book.
–The writer, a former SA presidential candidate, is a Hatchet columnist.