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The Statesman

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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Newsletter

    Our Trust is Very Expensive

    The recent Undergraduate Student Government scandal has brought to the forefront issues that might have never surfaced before, had it not been for students raising their voice against the blatant misuse of power. Sweeping the dirt under rug does little to increase student-administration trust. In fact, it has leads to the students’ voice falling on deaf ears and demeans us as a political and communal body.

    At this point, what is desperately needed is more accountability of the USG administration. For this to work, an effective check-and-balance system is needed. There appears to be a looser version of this in place based on the hierarchy of senators. But for a student to keep tabs on another student is not just ineffective, but also creates a tense atmosphere and is intensely conflicting.

    Of course, we are not expected to live up to the same standards as the federal government. But we are a smaller counterpart of the national government, complete with the inbred politics and democratic elections. This still demands a certain sense of responsibility, dignity and professionalism on the part of our student leaders.

    But the sad fact is that students are often close friends with their colleagues. It is almost impossible to expect a professional collegial atmosphere in the Senate. As a student newspaper, we also face the same issue. How do you fire someone who you are best friends with? Or do you hire someone you live with?

    Personal relations apart, the USG and the Statesman differ at one crucial standpoint – the distribution of monetary, especially discretionary funds. The USG holds the purse strings that fuel almost all of the clubs and organizations on campus, including us. For the Senate to misuse these, is to break the transparency that is expected between a government and the body it rules.

    One possible means of creating a better check-and-balance system is to make the USG directly answerable to their actions. Former USG President Romual Jean-Baptiste used the discretionary funds for his personal gain, and he appointed his friends to positions in the Summer Senate. After such deliberate and conscious decisions that not just question his authority but also that of the entire senate, the foremost question remains, who does Jean-Baptiste answer to?

    The USG has now demonstrated that it cannot be left as the sole decision-maker to allocate funds. Who would be more authoritative than the administration itself to provide more oversight? A smudge on the Senate’s character smears the entire administration and the University. The administration needs to step up to this challenge and bring back the reputability of the Senate as it was years ago.

    With power, comes not just great responsibility, but greater means to instill change. In the past, students have voted to mandate the student activities fee. Despite the gradual increase in the fee, they have continued to faithfully pay it with the mutual understanding that the USG will use it for our benefit. But because of the continual abuse of their power, it has now become harder to gain both our trust and respect.

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