Due to the wasteful and inefficient manor in which the Northwest College Student Senate conducts their business regarding the allocation of student fees, the Associated Students of Northwest College hereby demand that the funding and responsibilities of the Student Senate be severely diminished. The students of Northwest College no longer wish for their fees to be used to fund activities and field trips that are not intended to be inclusive of all students. To insure that the Student Senate does not have the capacity to fund such activities, the Board of Trustees shall set the maximum student fixed fee rate at twenty-five dollars ($25). The outcome will consist of the Northwest College student body retaining a larger amount of their money, allowing students to exercise their freedom to spend it as they see fit. The current arrangement is unjust, as it allows for certain individuals to reap greater benefits than others, despite the fact that all individuals are compelled to pay the same initial amount in student fixed fees. Requiring the student body to finance a self-interested and irresponsible Student Senate contradicts the ASNWC Constitution, which states that the purpose of the Student Senate is “to preserve student rights and freedoms.”
Letter to the editor published in the March 21, 2013, edition of the Northwest Trail:
To the Editor:
I am writing this letter to express my concern with the editorial in the March 7, 2013, edition of the Northwest Trail. The editorial presented the opposing view of my petition to decrease student senate funding and responsibility, and I wanted to take this opportunity to give my side of the story. Hopefully this letter will help explain to the readers what my petition is all about and why it is being circulated.
As a senator, I have seen first hand that the student senate is very much comprised of human beings, and thus they suffer from the human error of being unable to responsibly spend other people’s money. You are correct in saying that senate consists of many capable adults, but none of them are more capable than the students themselves when it comes to spending the students’ money. My proposal is to reduce the student fixed fee rate from $135 to $25, in turn allowing students to retain a larger amount of their income. It will then be up to the students to use the money they have saved to join clubs and go on trips if they so desire. If a student does not wish to become involved in school activities, that is perfectly acceptable. It is that student’s choice, and he or she should not be coerced into paying for the benefit of others. To put this into context, I will use a simple example. Let’s say I go to the store to buy $50 worth of groceries, but I only bring with me $5. I would not expect my fellow shoppers to pitch in to pay for my groceries, and I certainly would not force them to do so. Individuals are responsible for paying for things they want off campus, and it should not be any different on campus.
However, I do believe there are some things that senate should be responsible for, which is why the petition does not call for the abolition of senate, but rather a reduction in funding and responsibility. These things include campus improvement projects and school wide activities that all students may realistically attend. Student senate currently acquires a balance of approximately $100,000 per semester. It is their responsibility to allocate the funds as they see fit. However, as I mentioned earlier, they are human and have a hard time telling people “no” when groups come to the meetings asking for money. This results in outrageous and unsustainable levels of spending, most of which benefits a very small number of students. For example, senate recently awarded $3,000 to six students to help them fund their trip to Ireland. They claimed that the trip would benefit the school’s recruitment, but they overlooked the fact that only six students signed up for the trip. If we’re spending $3,000 to send six students on a trip in order to recruit another six students, we’re doing something wrong. Shouldn’t $3,000 in student fees benefit more students, given that it takes more than 22 students to raise $3,000?
In the editorial, it is mentioned that Enactus is among the many clubs to receive funding from senate. However, Enactus is one of the only clubs that has had a funding request denied by senate. This goes back to the “self-interested” part of the petition, as a majority of senators are involved in agriculture. Now to be clear, I don’t have a problem with what clubs certain senators are affiliated with, but when it results in only eight out of seventeen senators voting in favor of things such as the Enactus special funding request, there is clearly a conflict of interest. In fact, one source has informed me that some advisors believe the student senate money is theirs.
In sum, students should have full control of their money—not student senate. Right now students are forced to pay into the senate budget so senate has money to spend on the students. Why does it have to be so complicated? If the end goal is to give the money back to the students in some way, shape, or form, why not just let the students keep it all in the first place? If you truly believe that other people are better at spending your money than you are, then so be it. However, I will not sit idly by while my constituents watch their student fees fund activities that do not benefit them. Being a senator isn’t a popularity contest. People may hate me for what I am attempting to do, but I currently represent the voices of over seventy students who have signed my petition—seventy more than most other senators combined.
Zachary A. Burdick
NWC Student Senator
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