By: STEPHEN SALISBURY
Well, no doubt about it friends; we are living in a new era. Last Friday at noon, the forty-fifth President of the United States was sworn in, and if you’re reading this, it means we have survived thus far.
What has always fascinated me about the Presidency in particular is how some people can be looking at the exact same individual and see a national hero, while others see nothing but a national disgrace. There’s a word for that: perspective.
We all see the world and those in it from our own perspective. One of the goals, I believe, of a college education is to be able to start seeing the world from other people’s perspectives. The art of politics is having the ability to get people to see things from your perspective and then getting them to support your perspective enough to go out and take the time to vote for you.
One of the real challenges in politics is that so few people take the opportunity to do that, and those that do often have bitter battles because their perspectives are so diametrically opposed. One of the biggest complaints we often hear is that people feel as if their perspective, or their voice, if you will, is not being heard. I want to give you a chance this week to confront that perception.
Two Fridays ago, one of our Student Government Association (SGA) senators came to our meeting with a funding proposal from the members of our new baseball team—this being just their second year in existence. She had been talking with some of the players and discovered that they had a desire for a new set of travel jerseys. They had one set already, but they were hoping to buy a second set for long road trips so their coaches and training staff weren’t always scrambling to wash the jerseys in between away games all the time.
As is often the case on campuses our size, they were told by their superiors that there simply wasn’t enough money in the budget this year to make that happen. The Senator, who is always extremely passionate about helping students if she perceives a need, was adamant that the players come to SGA and request the funds. The amount was rather large—50 jerseys at $90 a piece equaling a $4,500 budget request.
The money that the SGA uses to fund requests like this comes from the student activities fees that we all pay every semester. The university administration and the SGA has had a standing agreement to work together to provide the funding for our athletic teams—some through the student activities fees and some from the university’s general fund. Each team is given an annual budget through the athletic department and they are expected to function within the parameters of that budget. This is the same for every department on campus. If a department or team wants more money, they have to find ways to go out and get that money.
In academics, you apply for grants and research fellowships. In athletics, that often involves fundraising or sponsorships. Essentially, what the baseball players were asking for was an SGA sponsorship so they could buy the jerseys. The SGA saw merit in the request and voted unanimously in favor.
Our athletic director believes that the jerseys are an unnecessary expense and he doesn’t want to establish the precedent of athletic teams executing an end around the athletics department and coming to the SGA every time they feel like they don’t have everything they’d like to have, especially when there is an annual budget process that takes many weeks and heavy consideration and analysis to finalize.
He would prefer I veto the legislation and let the athletics department worry about how to find funding or even if the funding is necessary. I would tend to agree with him because $4,500 is a lot of money, and when we run out, we run out. However, this would be a real boost for 50 of our students who spend an enormous amount of time out there representing our university, and these jerseys are just an added way of doing that in a classy way.
So, here’s your opportunity, my friends. I have until this Friday, Jan. 27, to decide if I want to veto the legislation (bearing in mind that the Senate can override my veto with a three-fourths majority vote). If I veto and it doesn’t get overridden, the money goes back into our budget and we can use it for other requests and the players may not get the jerseys. Let me and the SGA know what you think we should do. Let your voice be heard. Give us your perspective. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.