Letter to the Editor: Corruption starting in SGA

Jody Dahmer

Jody Dahmer

When I joined SGA as a freshman, I was thrilled to be part of something more. I could make a difference. I could be the change I wanted to see on campus. I thought that I was part of something that could help all students. Sadly, this isn’t the case after the precedent that has started after this past session of SGA. SGA Organizational Aid (Org Aid) is a part of the budget that has direct impact on students. Up to $500 of funding for one academic year can be given to each organization through the Organizational Aid Committee. The Administrative Vice President together with Senators review each case and decide on the amount to give. There are by-laws in place that govern this and the necessary forms are easily located on the SGA website.

Organizations meet with this committee outside of Senate and the reports are then forwarded and voted on in a very concise timely manner. After all, each organization had been vetted by members of the committee. Deadlines are set at the end of the semester to make sure that these bills are given the necessary time for WKU to clear the tax ID and write the check to the organization. 

Disregarding these areas, SGA senators wrote and passed a bill on behalf of a student organization allowing for $500 monetary reimbursement to come directly out of SGA Senate Discretionary Funding instead of submitting a new application at the beginning of next fall. This was due to a lack of quorum in Org Aid on the last meeting of this 2015-16 school year and all parties wanted a timely reimbursement of their travels. This Discretionary Funding is a source that is primarily used for department aid (e.g. New speakers for Dance Department, allocation for new equipment for Agriculture Department) and things that could help the entire student body such as security cameras.

I harbor no ill will towards the student group that received the money and wish this to be known. My real concern is that circumventing established rules in order to pay students sooner sets a dangerous example that will now be exploited for the foreseeable future. Now, any organization of the more than 100 student groups registered—even if they have already received funding—can now petition individual Senators to write bills allocating funding to their organizations. This is not transparent and is not what I signed up to do. Org Aid was a neutral committee that vetted each and every candidate no matter what it was they were representing with an unlimited amount of funding. 

With this precedent, individual senators can now promise to allocate money to student groups in exchange for votes. Any organization who has goals and viewpoints different than Senators will never get a chance to be heard for this extra funding. This precedent allows for groups that have access to Senators to have almost unlimited opportunities to receive aid and takes up time in SGA as we debate and go through each group. All the while there is already a transparent committee set up for this exact purpose that Senators are now choosing to ignore. 

Honestly, this is corrupt. This is something that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible to avoid potential ramifications. However, before the window closes, I would like to help as many organizations as possible before we fix these changes. If you are in a student organization and need funding for whatever purpose you see fit, please contact me at [email protected] . I will write a bill and present it to SGA on your behalf next Tuesday at 5:00 before we end our meetings two weeks from now. It can be for any purpose and any monetary amount under $250. Feel free to come out to speak about your bill if you are able!

I am doing this to show SGA and its Senators the error they have caused, help as many organizations and departments as I can and above all else showcase this in as broad a light as possible. The purpose of Org Aid is to look at these groups objectively and concisely to see if the student groups are meriting the money. There is a process, there are deadlines, and above all else there is transparency. I pray that we can return to our by-laws and not make such a mistake again while there is still time.

Sincerely,

Jody Dahmer,  SGA Senator

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Correction: An earlier version of this letter stated that the wrong number for the amount a bill can give an organization. The correct number is “any monetary amount under $250.”