I was disappointed to read the article Westminster SGA restructuring constitution (Feb. 27), and to find that Alex Benestelli was the only one being credited for this change in Westminster’s Student Government Association (SGA). While Alex’s contributions to Student Government this year have been invaluable, I can attest to the fact that there are many others contributing to this endeavor. I believe this article to be poorly written because of its lack of commitment to present the other side, or even the full story.
At Westminster, we are in agreement that things are not running as smoothly as they could, but that does not mean SGA is dysfunctional beyond repair. It is my opinion that the vast majority of student leaders at Westminster are competent and possess strong leadership skills. If things were as dysfunctional as some would suggest, I am certain that the Associate Dean of Students Office would intervene.
This new Code of Permanent Laws (a title that seems to confuse and concern most SGA officers) gained traction under the guise that it “ups accountability” in student government. While there may be some positive qualities to this document, the strong push for accountability comes at a cost. The new document seeks to alleviate any sense of trust within the SGA, additionally diminishing the potential for students to capitalize on these leadership experiences as learning experiences.
Further, and quite disconcertingly, everything is first and foremost related to finances. The largest shift in the document comes in dissolving the Student Finance Board, making the Finance Committee an ad hoc committee of the senate and reducing the student body treasurer to an ex officio member of said committee. True, money makes the world go round, but those holding leadership positions within the SGA should not be in it for the glory of spending.
There was also mention made of this document being modeled after the federal government’s. The federal government is significantly larger than Westminster (a body of fewer than 500 students), so I find this comparison to be a somewhat bizarre choice. We are afforded the luxury of having an intimate student body to work within. Consequently, I feel there is no need to micromanage student leadership. The Code is nearly 70 pages (longer than the U.S. Constitution and Amendments) and the excessively sophisticated language renders it incomprehensible at times.
Please, forgive me if this letter comes across as offensive or crass. I do not wish to diminish the work of those responsible for writing this document. It is evident that they are talented and passionate student leaders, and I commend them for their efforts. I do wish, however, to clarify that not everyone is on board with this new Code of Permanent Laws. There is still much acclimation, education, amending and modification that needs to be done — a process that will take us the better part of the year to accomplish, no doubt. It is important to consider, as Alex has mentioned, that this proposed change is a preliminary draft. It is not the document we will ultimately end up with. We are currently working with a bi-campus committee, which comprises the primary authors of this document, the SGA presidents and vice presidents of both campuses, other select students, both the Lawrenceville and Westminster SGA advisers and two deans of students. This is a serious matter that many of us in SGA are committed to resolving. If that does not demonstrate strong, functioning leadership within our body, I’m not certain what does.
Music Education, Class of 2010
WCC SGA President ’08-’09