Student Government Association bill lacks student consideration

Kali Daniel

Just as we elect a president or vice president of the United States based on their qualifications and previous experience, when we elect Student Government Association candidates, we do not expect less of them simply because the candidate ran unopposed.

During the March 17 SGA meeting, the Senate passed a proposal to change the requirements for the position of treasurer.

Previously, the SGA Code of Laws required the treasurer “to have completed the first academic course in accounting and either completed or be enrolled in the second academic course at the time the office is assumed.”

The two courses required were Accounting Concepts I and II (AC 291 and AC 292), which cover the “concepts, procedures and ethical aspects of accounting and financial reporting as a basis for decision making.”

Not only did the code of laws state the treasurer must have completed AC 291 and completed or be enrolled in AC 292, but the treasurer must have made at least a C. This requirement was so critical that, should the treasurer receive less than a C, the treasurer was removed from their position.

Now, the Senate has decided the treasurer need only be enrolled in AC 291 during the fall semester.

2016-17 Treasurer Nikki Mathews ran unopposed, meaning she was granted her position without needing to campaign. Mathews, currently a freshman, obviously has not been enrolled long enough to take the two required accounting courses, which is no fault of her own.

But to change an entire system of qualifications to fit one candidate is not only irresponsible, it is unethical.

Had SGA proposed the bill and asked students what they thought, then voted based on student input, I would probably feel differently. However, they did not ask students.

Students were not asked whether they thought the person who would be handling their money should have taken accounting courses. They were not asked if they thought the person handling over $280,000 per semester should be trained in fundamentals regarding ethics and financial presentations (based on the fall 2015 enrollment and activity fee). They were not asked how they felt about the treasurer handling their money effective April 22 — four months before her first AC 291 lesson. The organization hoping to speak for the students did not — they spoke for one student.

And while this is a resolution that can easily be undone next year, after Mathews’ year in office, is it ethical to change the code of laws, knowing it can be changed back in a year?

I believe SGA should ask students their opinion. If students agree with the decision, there is nothing they should undo and the decision should stand. If, however, the students disagree, it is SGA’s responsibility to find a qualified candidate to fill the position while respecting the students’ wishes.