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No credits for SGA

Just when I thought the Student Government Association couldn’t be any more needless or ridiculous, they go and pull a stunt like they just did, and remind me why I feel the way I do.

The stunt, or to them, their new genius concept, gave them a front-page story in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian last Thursday. The idea is that the SGA should create a voluntary course entitled “Legal Issues in Student Governance and Higher Education” in order for senators to receive academic credits for their hard work and dedication to – well, to whomever it is who allegedly benefits from the existence of the SGA.

In Alyssa Creamer’s Collegian story, “SGA votes to approve course for its members,” the SGA’s acting Administrative Affairs Committee Chair, Jared Rose, gave an explanation for the logic behind creating the course. According to the story, Jared stated that he finds the SGA a “very demanding and intense” extracurricular activity, and he wonders why he received credits in the past “just for being in the marching band,” but not for being in the SGA.

To Jared’s credit, he made a handful of points. Unfortunately, I find none of them to be at all legitimate. For one, he stated that the SGA “takes up more time than two classes put together.” He also goes on to say that the formation of the class would help the students in the SGA find time to meet informally when they normally wouldn’t be able to because of the varying scheduling conflicts amongst the senators. But the biggest point he made in the story was this – “The SGA is a real service to the University, and those students deserve credit for all of their work.”

To be completely honest, the idea is the most ridiculously arrogant thing the SGA has done since they voted against the Iraq war. These senators want school credit because they have to put time into their “service?” Just think of how ridiculous this concept is. For starters, if compared to any athletic team at the University of Massachusetts, the SGA is literally nothing when it comes to the necessary extra time and work that is put in.

Should basketball players receive credit for spending so much time at practice? Should the football team get credits for spending extra time at the gym? Maybe they should, but those points are more legitimate than what the SGA is arguing. What about the presidents of the various clubs around campus providing a real service to the University? I have enough experience in clubs to know that there are many students out there that put in extra work and time to preparing, organizing and running events all around campus. And these people are not complaining about a lack of academic credits like these senators are doing.

I mean, using the SGA’s logic, I am in line for some academic credits for writing this column. But you don’t see me wasting the University’s time.

If SGA members are going to get academic credit for their work and effort, everyone who puts in a comparable amount of time and work into their own respective extracurricular activity deserves it as well. It would be hypocritical of the school to grant credits to members of the SGA for the reasons they stated and not give credits to everyone else doing comparable work. It’s ridiculously egocentric and naive for the SGA to think they deserve academic credits, when students 10 times more worthy are demanding nothing of the sort.

And even if this class were created, who is going to pay for the materials and teachers required to have the course? I am not banking on the SGA paying for it. I also know I don’t want my school expenses to go up by endorsing the SGA.

The actual resolution passed by the SGA in part states the following, “the time it takes to do [senate] jobs to their fullest often cause academic sacrifices and little compensation of any kind.” How arrogant are these kids? It’s called a resume. Members of the SGA can put the fact that they were in the SGA on their resume and receive credit for it when they apply for graduate school or other jobs, exactly  like every single other student who has ever done anything that requires time and work that doesn’t give them compensation in the form of academic credit.

The SGA is just making itself look like the whining, arrogant, brat kid you see on “My Super Sweet 16” who complains that the new Lexus their parents bought them doesn’t have a sunroof.

Why are these senators in the SGA in the first place if they are passing a resolution that complains they don’t get “compensation of any kind?” I thought the compensation was being able to do a “service” for the University; being able to put it on your resume. I thought it was a privilege. Now they want credits too?

They knew going into the SGA there were no credits. Instead of focusing on themselves, the SGA should focus on the interests of the students and what they want – like online voting, which has been on the unresolved table for years.

I know the SGA is a joke and you probably find yourself wondering why you should even care about the SGA because of this, as you never did before. Well, there’s the principle of it.

The “service” done by the SGA seems to be no more legitimate or worthy of credits than the service done by many other students, clubs and athletes at the University. Senators don’t put in any more time than any other kids who are actively involved in their extracurricular activities who also don’t receive academic credit. Senators shouldn’t get credit just because they stomp their feet and whine the most publicly. And we don’t even need to get into how I can’t think of a single time in my life I have benefited from the “service” the SGA provides. I would wager I could probably accomplish as much as they have this past semester in about two hours.

 Then again, maybe I couldn’t. I can’t guarantee that I would have been able to match their accomplishments like the one about putting voting online – by taking it absolutely nowhere while they focus on themselves.

Alex Perry is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at amperry@student.umass.edu.

Comments
6 Responses to “No credits for SGA”
  1. Jon says:

    Somebody call 911,

    SGA been burned on da dance floor,

    Whoa whoa

  2. Dan O'Leary says:

    I have a hard time with Mr. Perry’s failure to distinguish between the functions and services provided by the SGA, RSO’s, and University Athletic Programs across campus. Entrusted with millions of dollars to draft annual budgets and “expressing the will of the undergraduate student body on campus”, the SGA represents the sole democratic process open to students in an institution of administrative bureaucracy. No RSO, or athletic team for that matter, boasts such a broad interest towards the entire campus community.

    Additionally, Mr. Perry’s scathing assessment of the SGA’s accomplishments and conduct mislead his article’s focus. For one, if scheduling and timing is an issue for SGA members, won’t their mandatory proposal papers establish a stronger foundation for future legislation? Second, awarding academic credit to SGA members would create a greater incentive for more participation in student government. With due reverence to its current members, the SGA would undoubtedly attract more candidates when it hosts its annual elections. And who would stand to gain from this preponderance of candidates? That’s right. The students of Umass, who would be able to elect peer representatives not deterred from office by uncompensated efforts generally associated with public service on-campus. If anything, I see this legislation as an incentive for all students to get involved.

    In short, I see this proposal as strengthening the SGA. If elected officials receive monetary compensation for their efforts on capitol hill, why shouldn’t SGA members receive academic credit for their noble efforts?

    When Mr. Perry ham-handedly writes, “the ‘service’ done by the SGA seems to be no more legitimate or worthy of credits than the service done by many other students, clubs, and athletes at the University”, I totally agree. It’s about time their work is recognized and distinguished from the work of every other student organization on-campus. Therefore, I view the passage of this resolution with high hope and enthusiasm.

  3. Phil Laak says:

    As a former alumni, I agree with all the points made in this article. It was also well written.

  4. Alex Perry says:

    this is too funny.

    the SGA being entrusted with millions is a complete joke. As i have said before the kids have no qualifications to be sitting where they are in most cases aside from the fact that they were elected by the at best 20-50 students that voted for them. If you think its legit that these kids are in charge of millions then good for you.

    scheduling is a problem for all students with busy schedules. Clubs for instance have trouble with everyone in the club to meet at certain points in time but they dont require a class. they make time. if they cant make time they dont participate in the club. if these senators cant make time they shouldnt participate in the SGA.

    why do we need more candidates? so we can have more names on the ballot? as i have said before that doesnt matter. no one cares how many names are on the ballot because none of the names on the ballot are differentiated in any way besides spelling. no one knows who the random people on the ballot are because there are no campaigns… even if there were campaigns no1 would listen cuz no1 cares about the SGA or knows what the SGA does.

    but to wrap up how ridiculous this is, ill end with this:

    “In short, I see this proposal as strengthening the SGA. If elected officials receive monetary compensation for their efforts on capitol hill, why shouldn’t SGA members receive academic credit for their noble efforts?”

    if you think for one second the work of the SGA and the work of real members of congress in washington is anything alike… at all… well i just feel bad for you if thats the case. You are comparing US law makers to SGA senators who cant even figure out if we should have online voting.

    just re-read what you wrote. this is preposterous.

    i used the example of students who participate in athletics and clubs because they also put a lot of extra time in with little compensation… and thats the reason senators stated they want credit… “the time it takes to do [senate] jobs to their fullest often cause academic sacrifices and little compensation of any kind.” … well how about this… the time it takes to be a good basketball player requires academic sacrifices and little compensation of any kind. the time it takes to be a president of the UDems requires academic sacrifices and little compensation of any kind. [insert position] requires academic sacrifices and little compensation of any kind.

    i’m using the SGA’s own reasoning. they didnt say they want credit because their work should be recognized and distinguished. (thats up for debate too) they said its cuz they have to make academic sacrifices and get little compensation. its a fair comparison.

    im not trying to talk down to you or be mean Dan thats just how i see it. i dont want what i commented here to come across as “you’re dumb. I’m smart” i just feel strongly about this and thats why i wrote this comment the way i did.

    No offence.

  5. Emily says:

    I cannot believe someone said this was well-written. It’s incredibly redundant -we get it, you think the SGA doesn’t do anything!- and poorly researched. Of course, someone who calls himself a “former alumni” cannot be expected to know much about redundancy, but I digress.

    Firstly, his name is JarRed. Two R’s.

    Secondly, the SGA certainly does do a service to the campus. As Mr. O’Leary said, they are a voice for students in the bureaucracy on campus. They also control a large budget (I believe it’s $2million, but I’m not positive), which they distribute to RSOs. Surely you would rather students decide which RSOs should get X amount of money, and not some out-of-touch mid-level bureaucrat who doesn’t care. I firmly believe that the SGA is an important institution on campus, but that’s not the point I want to make here…

    Let’s pretend for the sake of argument that the SGA does not, in fact, matter. Why should this interfere with them attending a class and getting credit for it? The class will require papers and assignments. My understanding is that they will have to go to an actual CLASS in order to receive the credits. Attending a class X times per week and writing papers is what we all do to get credits! I would ask Mr. Perry if he believes that anything he does in his classes affects the campus as a whole. Surely not. Whether the SGA matters to the campus as a whole is not relevant.

    If anything, I think their class would be among the most practical a student (particularly one looking for a future in policy-making or politics) could take here. They will have to write policy papers. They will have to attend Senate meetings, an excellent practice for the way I imagine a real local government runs, which will require them to stand up and defend their proposals. They will have to do research on their peers’ proposals in order to vote. They’re certainly gaining skills, which is all you can ask from any class.

    I am not a senator and I stand to gain nothing from this class existing. But the senators I know all carry themselves admirably and they work much harder than most of the other people I know. They deserve credit.

  6. Alex Perry says:

    I know what the SGA does and doesn’t do.

    If the SGA didnt exist, im quite confident that budget would be handled equally as effectively as it is now.

    as i keep saying, these kids have no qualifications that make them more worthy of the budget then some allegedly out-of-touch mid-level bureaucrat. In some cases the only credentials these students have is that they received a handful of votes to get their seat.

    Lets not make it seem like without the SGA we would all miss the SGA. most people wouldnt even know it had left.

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