Last week’s Student Government Association meeting ended in a stalemate when the Educational Opportunity Fund bill was voted down and sent back to the committee to be reviewed.
The EOF gives student groups and different departments on campus the chance to receive funding for positions that are not able to be funded through allocations. The funding is supposed to give way to innovative educational opportunities that can help further students’ experience and education during their years at Fort Hays State University.
During the meeting, several debates took place between senators and executive senate staff in order to define what exactly the EOF bill was going to fund. Several groups on the bill, including tutors in the foreign language and physics departments, diversity ambassador for the Office of Admissions and Diversity Affairs all received zero-funding recommendations for the EOF committee, which is comprised of students both on and off senate.
The tension also rose when senators debated to lower the funds that SGA themselves requested for a new position on executive staff that would be a bridge between students and senate, provide SGA with a marketing and public relations member and help plan and promote activities that SGA hosts such as the Big Event.
After the bill was sent back to committee, SGA removed its request.
Much of the debate stemmed from students who believed that the position does not need to be a fully paid position but a stipend or low-paying position to give students the chance to use the opportunity for their resume or internship requirements.
When voting for several amounts to allocate to SGA, the room seemed to be split down the middle between yea or nay.
“There were a lot of external issues affecting the judgment of certain senators relative to this bill, which I find unfortunate,” said senior Tyler Thompson, president of SGA. “Tensions have been quite high since the election results were announced, and I think those tensions boiled over publicly last week. It is always our preference to have personal issues worked out privately, as issues inevitably come up throughout the year – that is politics. Those issues are typically resolved, and we move on in a mature fashion. Unfortunately, that did not happen last week – and for that, I sincerely apologize to those who had to witness it over the course of our three-and-a-half hour meeting.”
In the end, a 2/3 vote was needed in order to pass the bill last Thursday, but the three hours of debate and stress was wiped out when the majority vote wasn’t received.
Thompson said the bills similar to this don’t often get sent back to committee review, but its urgency will be high priority at tonight’s SGA meeting.
“There are only a few bills that get sent back to committee once they have failed Senate, and those bills are typically our major funds (EOF or allocations.) In this case, the bill failed Senate and was returned to committee for re-evaluation,” Thompson said. “We will go through the same process we did when we presented the original bill, but we will put it up for emergency business at this meeting because it is our last meeting of the academic year.”
If the bill is not passed at tonight’s meeting, groups will have to be funded with decisions made by Thompson himself. “If the bill doesn’t pass, I will have to fund groups for next year by executive order. To be clear, that is the nuclear option, and something I do not want to do,” Thompson said. “I expect the Senate to be mature enough to pass a bill for me to sign.”
The SGA meeting begins at 7 p.m. tonight in the Black and Gold room of the Memorial Union.