Three responses to the SGA funding controversy

Introductory note:

Last week, the Crimson ran an article on SGA’s recent funding request delays. In response to complaints from both SGA and Greek Life members, here are three responses from the perspectives of each.

From Panhellenic President

Julianna Hallman, Guest Contributor

Last week in the Crimson, an article was published that blamed SGA’s Senate funding delays in part on Panhellenic recruitment.

I, as a former Senate leader and the current president of the Panhellenic Council, have struggled to see the correlation.

Senate is and has always been made up of students that represent more than just Greeks.

Personally, I believe it’s both unprofessional and completely inappropriate to lay the blame for Senate’s inaction at the feet of its sorority women.

Many students have asked me about this assertion since the article was published, confused about how a weekend of activities limited to female students in Greek organizations could have possibly delayed funding for school-wide clubs and organizations.

I’m confused too.

No member of Senate has reached out for discussion with Greek Life about possible new recruitment dates, or a possible solution to this “problem.”

The council has never asked for funding from Senate, and it never will. Each sorority is always willing to let senators leave for meetings, provided they receive advance notice of a meeting.

With this in mind, how can we be to blame?

Recruitment planning begins well over a year in advance in order to minimize as many potential conflicts as possible, and the council works closely with the university to decide these dates.

We consider the school calendar, student input, football games and university events in order to come up with the dates for recruitment.

We simply refuse to accept blame for a problem that shouldn’t have come up in Senate, and one we never had a problem with.

In addition, next year’s Panhellenic dates have already been set: Sept. 9-13, 2015.

Julianna Hallman is a senior journalism and mass communication major. Email her at jhallman@samford.edu.

 

From the Crimson editors

Emily Featherston, News Editor

Nothing about what I do is perfect.

My room and car are not as neat as I would like, I’m often running late and I spend more money at Starbucks than I’d like to admit.

My section of The Crimson is also not perfect. There have been many punctuation mistakes, spacing problems and misspellings this semester.

Last week, there were a few problems that were more severe. In the story about Dance for Down Syndrome, we misprinted the founder’s name, Lindy Williamson, and rephrased a sentence in a way that could be considered offensive to people with Down Syndrome, though that was not our intention.

In the story about the Senate’s funding delays, we referred to senior finance major Stephen Newton as SGA Treasurer, when his correct title is SGA Vice President for Senate.

These are errors that as an editor, I should have caught and corrected.

There were things about last week’s issue, however, that I stand behind.

Various members of SGA, members of Greek Life and Samford faculty brought several issues with the funding story to the editorial staff’s attention. These issues included the belief that we contacted incorrect sources, took a quote out of context and purposefully manipulated facts to accuse Senate of blaming and attacking Greek Life.

As the original writer of the story, I personally reached out to Newton and Laura Ann Prickett, based on their positions in Senate. On Oct. 7, Pricket was voted Pro Tempore, meaning that should Newton be absent from a Senate meeting, she would act in his place.

For this reason I asked her, point-blank, “What caused the delays in Senate funding this semester?” It was to this that she responded, as printed, that later Panhellenic recruitment and other significant time commitments caused Senate “processes” as a whole to run at a slower pace. She did not make a distinction between the finance committees and any other committees. Based on her position in Senate and experience in Greek Life, I had no reason to doubt her response.

When I gave the story over to another writer, I provided her with the email conversations that I had already completed, but encouraged her to reach out to each individual again, as well as SGA President McDavid Maddox. Unfortunately, the writer was unable to obtain responses from those she contacted.

While I wish that she had been able to conduct in-person interviews to clear up exactly what was going on, she wrote a story based on the facts that she had access to, and had no reason to suspect these facts were inaccurate.

We were also accused of misconstruing facts to claim that Senate voted to move recruitment. In the article, we said, “different resolutions have been proposed” to keep funding delays from happening in the future. This is based on the Senate meeting minutes that I am sent every week. While I should have made sure the article was clearer in explaining what a “resolution” is – a statement that a voting body intends to do something – the two resolutions mentioned in the story were indeed proposed.

Having spoken with Laura Ann, we discovered much of the frustration on both sides comes from a severe communication breakdown between all involved parties. Emails were lost, people expressed frustration without knowing the whole story and madness ensued.

While we could have always done better, the fact remains that with barely three weeks left in the semester, groups and organizations are just now receiving their fall funding. Even if Panhellenic recruitment had nothing to do with it, the point of the article was to bring light to the fact that student organizations were suffering. That is the message that readers were meant to take away from last week’s story, and that message does not change because of the communication breakdown.

Emily Featherston is a junior journalism and mass communication major. Email her at efeather@samford.edu.

 

From Student Government

This semester, the SGA Senate received 31 funding requests from various student organizations across campus. This number is an impressive increase from the 23 requests presented during the 2013-2014 academic year. The Senate Finance Committee has worked to process these requests in a timely manner. However the sheer volume inevitably slowed down the process. As of Nov. 18, Senate has considered and voted on all of the fall 2014 funding requests.

In past academic years, the timeline of SGA elections has resulted in a delay in Senate committee formation. Because SGA elections were held two weeks into the fall semester, requests could not be processed until students elected Senate members and the vice president formed the Senate Finance Committee. SGA recognized this problem last semester and passed new legislation. Starting with the next election cycle, Senate will hold elections during the spring semester to avoid funding request delays in the future.

“Next year, funding requests should be able to begin within the first week or two of school, avoiding the issues we are facing this year,” said Vice President for Senate Stephen Newton. “The delays we saw this semester were a result of the combination of an increased amount of requests and the date of SGA elections. Funding requests were in no way affected by the Greek recruitment process.”

Senate is pleased with the recent influx of funding requests and additional opportunities to serve and represent Samford students. As a result, it has increased the allocation fund to accommodate the growing financial needs of student organizations.

Students with any questions or concerns are encouraged to fill out the Student Feedback Form located on the SGA OrgSync page and consult with their Senate representatives.

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