When students voted on a University-wide referendum to split the Student Government Association (SGA) into two independent bodies, the debate focused on the proper balance of graduate and undergraduate interests within the new SGA. SGA President Max Zoberman, Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) President Jared Greenbaum and others on SGA’s executive council aggressively lobbied for a “yes” result.
By rushing the vote, Zoberman and Greenbaum led the student body into a dangerous period of uncertainty.
Websites were made and town halls were held, all without mention of the aftermath: the dereliction of a constitution for an exclusively undergraduate SGA to operate under.
In minutes from their Dec. 5 meeting, SGA asks whether enough “due diligence” has been done to take the so-called split bill to a vote. Legislators noted that they were uncomfortable with the lack of specificity in the bill, especially undergraduates for whom the “next steps” after the split had not yet been decided. Despite these concerns, SGA irresponsibly passed the bill that day and sent it to a student referendum.
Now, after the referendum, there is debate as to whether or not the Constitution still is active. According to Zoberman, “the revelation that [SGA is now] not bound by a constitution didn’t come until after the vote.”
Our elected leaders engineered a plan that failed to take any of this into account, and SGA is now operating without real checks on its action.
Though Zoberman stated SGA hopes to adhere to the old constitution until a new one is approved, relying on our leaders to act in good faith is simply unacceptable. SGA controls a budget of hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of which comes directly from students’ activities fees.
While it’s not clear that SGA has abused the enormous responsibility of handling such a budget, there is currently little to stop them from doing so.
The situation is tenuous. Even if SGA passes a new constitution, a majority of students will still need to ratify it in referendum. Zoberman himself said the situation would be both “shocking and dangerous” if it fails to garner enough support to pass.
The present situation could easily have been avoided by attaching provisional constitutions to the split bill.
Regardless, Zoberman unapologetically placed both in untenable and potentially disastrous positions. Whether the decisions that led to these circumstances were a calculated power grab or just thoughtless, SGA owes it to students to acknowledge their failures and ensure that a functioning, responsible governing structure is put in place for next year.
Zoberman promised the split would improve student government – it hasn’t.
The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.