The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

SGA Member Asks For Unity

4 min read

The following letter was written in response to “SGA Inefficiency is Due to Apathy” (April 10, 2008, The Bullet.)

In last week’s Bullet issue, one Catherine Dexter wrote an article entitled “SGA Inefficiency Due to Apathy.”
I do agree that apathy is a huge problem on campus, which is demonstrated by the small percentage of people who are involved on campus through the Student Government and other venues.
However, I believe that her attack on the Student Government Association members is wrong, and I am very ashamed that some of us have resorted to name calling.
In the article Dexter wrote, she said, “At a particularly heated board meeting where the possibility of Newman resigning was discussed, Sinha told the gathered board members that Senate was only a small percentage of Newman’s responsibilities as SGA Vice President, compared to her other duties.”
Being a committee chair myself and having taken part in the board room discussion, I argue that Dexter has grossly taken out of context what Sinha was saying.
Jacqui Newman served nobly as our Senate President for an entire semester, while at the same time helping Sinha and the greater SGA get many things done.
However, when she got a job half way through spring semester with a few weeks left before transition, a few senators wanted Newman to step down. They wanted to hold elections to elect a new Senate president to serve for the remaining few weeks until transition, because Newman could only make every other Senate meeting on Wednesdays.
However, she continued to get as much done with the SGA as she could before the end of the year. Had she been removed at that point, everything that the SGA was working on would be permanently stalled.
In saying what he did, Sinha meant no disgrace to the Senate, but was simply suggesting that what SGA was currently doing was more urgent.
This year’s SGA spearheaded a call for a better internet connection and their actions have resulted in UMW receiving increased bandwidth next year, as well as better e-mail accounts.
The SGA also should be applauded for the record breaking homecoming, increasing relations with the town and expanding the “Care to Share” program, which donates items to the town that students would otherwise throw out. These are just a few of the achievements that the SGA has made.
Furthermore Sinha and his cabinet have discussed his entire platform with the administration several times and many issues are under consideration.
In fact, the only reason that many are not enacted is that there are budget cuts coming from Richmond.
It is not a problem that everyone did not attend the “The Leadership Conference” but we should now be focused on watching those who attended to see if they learned anything that could be valuable for the student body.
We must realize that those few people who are in student government are doing many more activities than the normal student for the most part and we must remember that many of our student leaders might not have been able to attend for that reason.
I know personally I am involved in over ten clubs on campus and I am probably in club meetings more than I am in class every week; I personally spend all of Saturdays catching up on studying. I know this might not go for all the student leaders but I am sure many others are under the same situation.
Also, the student body elected James Martin, though nobody ran against him. If people are that angry over what he did then they should have been more involved and tried to take his position.
I want to point out Mary Wagoner and thank her for picking up the club. I believe that she was a good example of how we should have unity and if we loose a person in a club, not to fret over it, but appoint someone else. She also showed that as a group, and a community those that are left should move on with the organization.
From the James Martin conflict we were able to see what happens when a leader suddenly disappears.
If the “LAC struggled with retaining members and restructuring the organization because of an inefficient and useless organizational structure left by Martin,” what would have happened had Newman been removed from her office?
We would have been left with a Senate struggling to hold itself together just as the LAC had to struggle to hold itself together.
I end this article with a call for unity.
We as a student body should stick together and not be attacking one another for it is anti-productive. If anyone in the student body has any problem with how the school works then I would love to see them get involved with the student government or even a club and try to change what they don’t like.
Many groups are already trying to make a difference instead of complaining that they are not making change.
In the words of the great Patrick Henry, “united we stand and divided we fall.”

Michael Downey is a freshman member of the Finance Committee and the UMW Senate.