The Student Government Association is facing a battle between the young and the old.
SGA tabled a proposal that would have placed three freshmen on the university’s enrollment growth committee — a joint effort between University Senate and SGA. The proposal comes to the dismay of many who feel at least some of the appointments should go to upperclassmen.
SGA President Jamie Sears said she chose freshmen because she wanted them to be a consistent presence on the committee.
She wants the appointments to go freshmen congress members Tim Howard, Katie Dawson and Robert Watkins.
Sears said that the congress members she proposed for the committee are capable, adding that Dawson and Howard serve as co-chairs of SGA’s student affairs committee.
But some congress members don’t think the freshmen are ready for such a move.
“From private conversations with other senators, the student senators feel like appointing three freshmen would send the wrong message to the university,” said Dana Lockhart, associate justice of SGA. He said it would be hard for SGA to be taken seriously.
He also believes they lack experience and understanding of Western’s enrollment growth issues.
“I don’t believe they have seen the changes enrollment has brought to Western over the past few years,” Lockhart said. “There are others in SGA who are far more qualified for this right now.”
Brandon Copeland, vice president of administration, said the committee would benefit from a compromise, replacing one of the freshmen with an upperclassman.
“When you have three freshmen, they have nearly equal knowledge of what Western faces [with enrollment],” Copeland said. “Upperclassmen bring knowledge of two or three years’ experience here at Western.”
But the experience of upperclassmen wasn’t what Sears had in mind when she picked Dawson, Howard and Watkins.
Sears said that after speaking to senate chair Doug Smith and President Gary Ransdell, it was her understanding that the committee would be a two- to three-year program. She said she chose freshmen because she wanted them to be involved from the beginning of the program to the final decisions that the committee might make.
Smith said SGA is free to pick their members however they deem fit.
“We’re all still in the negotiation stage in how [the committee] is going to work,” Smith said.
Lockhart, who serves as a student representative on the senate, said that holding such a position is difficult and is usually reserved for upperclassmen.
He said the SGA members that were asked to serve on the committee have no experience in dealing with complex university issues.
He also said it would be difficult for freshmen to debate enrollment growth issues with professors that they might have in class one day.
Howard, one of the proposed appointees, agreed the task would be hard, but it’s one they are willing to tackle.
“I understand the skepticism because none of us have been on a university committee,” Howard said.
“None of us will back down just because a professor says, ‘I don’t think this should happen,'” he said. “We will stick up for it if we think it’s what’s right for the students.”
Howard said he and the others plan to do research so they can prove to other SGA members that they are qualified to sit on the committee.
The tabling of this proposal is not meant to send the message that some SGA members are anti-freshman, Copeland said.
“It isn’t against the people who have been nominated,” Copeland said. “It’s just saying that we need to make sure we have diversity of thought in our representation.”
Reach Adriane Hardin at [email protected]