SGA, the sky’s the limit – but the bare minimum comes first

Every organization has a few key people who tend to be the most passionate – that’s just the reality of any workplace. However, they shouldn’t be the only people doing any work at all. | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

Elise Gregg | Editor-in-Chief

In the three years I’ve worked in student media and interacted with student government professionally, I’ve seen a lot from SGA – good and bad.

Right now, though, senators need to step it up. The money students pay to support SGA’s salaries shouldn’t be wasted on senators who don’t do their jobs. 

This past year, I’ve been incredibly impressed with the passion of senators in making FIU a better place. Though I may not agree with every decision made, I heavily respect the dedication and hard work. That passion, however, is concentrated among a select few people.

A vast majority of senators don’t do much in these meetings. It’s early in the semester, so I don’t think anyone expects a flood of legislation or the instant implementation of new policies.

However, they’re not even doing the bare minimum. 

In the meetings I’ve attended the last few months, the senate chambers have been sprinkled with a few senators up in the front rows – the back and middle sections are frequently barren. The Zoom screens have been black, cameras and microphones off. 

The people I hear speak are frequently the same, over and over again. However, they’re getting paid just as much as people sitting with cameras off or on their phones in the Senate – From student fees, by the way.

Even other senators recognize it as a problem. Medical school senator Alejandro Arzola pointed it out at the Oct. 2 meeting.

“It’s kind of upsetting and disappointing that half of Senate – more than half of Senate is not here – but I’m looking at 17 people with their cameras off,” he said during the senate forum. 

The minutes for that meeting don’t include attendance, but roll calls from previous meetings show a steady decrease throughout the semester. 

On Aug. 21, 36 senators were present out of the total 44. By Sep. 11, only 27 senators were there out of 42 senators. That means that over a dozen senators were absent at that meeting. 

In the following meeting, 33 senators were there

This pattern of absentees in every meeting is concerning and shows a lack of care towards the student body.

Further, as Arzola mentioned, many people attend on Zoom with cameras off, not interacting with their fellow senators.

“I believe there are many reasons why we wouldn’t be here, but we require communication,” Senate President Kaily Lachapelle said during the Oct. 2 meeting. “This is disheartening when we do have such high numbers still not engaging because it’s not a good example to set as SGA when we look at so many other clubs that don’t get paid.” 

Senators are paid by student activity and service fees, meaning that money paid to the university each semester as part of tuition pays for SGA’s salaries.

I’m all for that. I’m proud that my money goes toward making FIU a better place and ensuring that senators and leaders in student government get paid for their hard work. 

However, I’m not proud when it goes to senators who can’t be bothered to come to campus and leave their cameras off, doing who-knows-what during working hours. 

Every organization has a few key people who are the most passionate. That’s just the reality of any workplace. However, they shouldn’t be the only people doing any work at all.

Senators, do your jobs. The sky’s the limit, but only if you can do the bare minimum first. 

Additional reporting by Samuel Larreal


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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