Is there anyone left at FGCU who doesn’t believe we are living at a special time in this University’s history? The interesting coincidence is that this University is at the very same point in its life that we are as students. Namely that the little decisions that we make as young students — such as which RSO to join, which major and minor to pursue, which class to take — have drastic implications on the course our lives take decades from now. Similarly, the little decisions we make as a young University today have drastic implications on where we end up — not decades but centuries from today. One of those decisions should be to sever the hand that feeds FGCU’s Student Government — now and forever.
Why does a University have a Student Government? The entire purpose, historically, for Student Unions (as they are called in Europe) has been to identify where the interests of the students and the administration conflict, and to always, always, ALWAYS stand up for the interests of the students when they do.
Oxford University, a 918-yearold institution of learning in England, has produced 26 prime ministers, a president of the United States and countless other heads of state, leaders in economics, business and religion. It’s arguably the most prestigious University in the world. Their Student Government is allowed $24 a student per year, in U.S. dollars. This sums up to $528,000 per year. Our student government operates on a $4.5 million budget. Perhaps you can see the problem here.
What is the result of FGCU’s SG having such a relatively large responsibility for such a relatively young school? Well, you see it every week in Eagle News, don’t you? We bicker over nonsense relating to funds and their dispersal. We plow fertile ground for competing egos and silly political games to blossom. All while the real issues of this University not only go unsolved but also unmentioned. Only 43 percent of our students graduate with their bachelor’s degree within six years. That’s the third lowest in the state of Florida. Only 6.7 percent of our students receive financial aid that fully meets their needs. Students at this University pay almost the exact same fees as students from UF and UCF and receive drastically less services for their money. But instead of talking about any of these things, the biggest issue of last semester for our Student Government was a barbershop parked outside the front of our lawn. We’ve been duped.
Under the guise of the power of the purse, the true meaning of our Student Government has been sidelined. Rather than being a de facto arm of the administration, shouldn’t our Student Government be a sovereign voice of the students? Rather than succumbing to the vanity of suits and ties and pictures with politicians and trips to D.C., shouldn’t our Student Government be mobilizing the student body around issues central to the growth of our school? Consider the fact that any company making $4.5 million a year, as our SG does, would certainly hire an accountant with more experience than any treasurer or appropriations chair FGCU has ever had. More importantly, the disappointment that RSOs express when their needs aren’t met shouldn’t be directed to the students to begin with, when the scarcity of resources is the responsibility of the administration. Thus, by giving the power of the purse to SG, the administration simultaneously oversees the dispersal of the funds and receives none of the blame when the needs of our student body aren’t met.
Domenic Volpi has a unique opportunity to change the course of this University’s history. He can do something unprecedented and change the entire dichotomy of our internal debate. He can advocate for a changing of the guard in responsibilities, and acknowledge in so doing that it is neither in the student body nor the Student Government’s best interest to spend A&S fees, but rather that SG should be funded through a block grant and be sovereign in that grant’s dispersal. I call for reform.