Minnesota State University, Mankato, similar to other colleges, has a student senate. MNSU’s Student Government, (formerly known as MSSA), is a collection of students who meet every week to discuss issues that involve students.
While the student-run organization has an advisor that helps them, the advisor has little to no say in what goes on. The students run the weekly meetings, provide services for students such as the Maverick Textbook Reserve Program, and deliberate and decide on decisions.
Those decisions range from renaming their organization from “MSSA” to “Student Government,” or even deciding on the entire budget of a student organization.
Yes. Students get to vote on the fate of student organizations. This happens at the annual budget meeting every year. At a typical budget hearing, SAC (the Student Allocations Committee), gives the Student Government a recommendation on what the budget of organizations should be to accommodate for the amount desired. Then each department can appeal for a higher budget if they want, and answer questions the senators have.
The senators then get to discuss their thoughts and vote on the fate of the budget; either cutting it or raising it. They decide if the organizations get the money they need, or slice it.
In all, Student Government is in charge of $2 million. This is a huge amount of money to throw in the hands of a bunch of kids from the ages of 18 to 22. Many of them don’t even have experience in business or understand money in a buisness perspective.
That $2 million should be in the hands of faculty and staff who have experience with budgeting and knowledge on such numbers. For college students to decide on the entire budget of actual organizations is completely inappropriate. And frankly, it makes the university itself look lazy.
To hand all this responsibility over to such young people makes the faculty seem indolent. This is something adults with degrees and extensive knowledge should be handling. Not college students in the first steps of learning.
Many of these students are also on the senate solely to help their own organizations. They often do not take into account the people involved in other organizations, if those people need to be paid, if they are in need of more equipment, etc.
There may also be some bad blood between organizations, or some students may dislike certain ones because of personal reasons. This makes the students extremely biased and it is highly unethical.
To have a student involved in an organization and speak on why that organization needs the money more than the others, is clearly wrong. Especially since there are only a number of limited spots on the senate. Not every organization can get an advantage like that. It is unfair.
This gives that organization a foothold that many organizations do not get if they cannot have one of their members on the senate. Whoever speaks on behalf of an organization only gets to appeal for a higher budget if desired, and answer questions the senate may have. They have no say in the senate’s actual discussion on the budget.
I have experienced this all firsthand as I have attended the budget meetings for the past three years. I have seen organizations ripped apart solely because many of the senators were biased and did not like what those organizations represented.
Not to mention, the meetings are always very disorganized and far from formal. If you were holding $2 million in your hands, would you be eating goldfish crackers and sipping on coffee? Some senators were seen not only doing that on Wednesday’s meeting, but many of them seemed entirely uninterested in the conversations happening around them.
Some senators were far too relaxed, laughing and whispering amongst themselves and zoning out when the fate of many organizations were on the line. How is that appropriate?
The University should be seriously considering the power Student Government holds, and the effects it has on students and their organizations. We are a college that is open to new ideas and criticism, but it is unfair to unjustly rule an organizations budget by biased opinions. That is exactly what the majority of senators are doing.