Opinion: We Are Being Failed: Economic Crisis In The Student Senate

By Carl DeMarco, Guest Columnist

On January 24, I received an email from the Parliamentarian of the Senate informing me that I was to be “barred” from attending the meetings of the Budget Management Committee—the committee I have faithfully served on for the past school year. This was done in a shady attempt to silence me, as the Constitution of the Senate fails to mention the Chair’s ability to “bar” committee members from attending.  

Their claim was simple. My behavior was “unbecoming” as a senator and representative of the people. Anyone who knows me can say that I can be gruff. It is a fault of mine, and I acknowledge it but I try my hardest to correct it. 

But there is something I will not apologize for.  

I will not apologize for watching the Senate spend their budget, your tuition money as if it were monopoly money. From day one, I promised to be fiscally conscious, and I have never once gone back on that. I approach every budget, regardless of who is presenting, with the aim of saving money so that other groups can benefit. Everyone deserves a piece of the pie. It has not won me a lot of friends in the Senate, and for most of the year, I have been okay with that.   

I warned my fellow voting members of the consequences of reckless spending. I tried with every budget last fall to ensure that we did not spend more than 50 percent of our annual budget in one semester alone. Yet, as things stand, our Student Senate has less than $20,000 for the rest of this year.  

I tried my hardest along with a group of other Senators to prevent this from happening. But no one wanted to listen. The irony is that people who normally disagree with me have come up and thanked me for my work. People who would even like to see me out of the Senate as a whole, have come up to me and thanked me. 

Instead, people went to the Executive Board and complained that I was “mean.” I’d watch my fellow voting members roll their eyes when I spoke and cautioned them against these actions. I stood there as I was lectured that my behavior was wrong despite only attempting to convince people that spending $10,000 in one meeting for a singular club was not a wise decision. 

Despite the Senate’s attempt to remove me, they have failed to even tell what my actions were that warranted this illegal procedure. 

As a member of the Budget Management Committee, I have worked with every club that has requested money. I have worked to trim almost every budget evenly, regardless of the organization. I have voted no sparingly; and when I see that an organization is willing to compromise, I generally vote yes. I have even voted no on budgets my own friends have proposed. I mean all this to ensure my unbiased approach as a member of the committee.

From where I stand it looks like certain groups and people are scared. They are scared because they know that when you spend 71 percent of your budget before the second semester, you did something wrong. Therefore, I have decided to accept the Senate Executive Board’s decision, in an attempt to let them see the consequences of their actions. 

They are trying to silence me because I am one of the few who are willing to stand up and simply say: no. They know that I will work to make sure that every organization gets the money they need this semester, and they do not want to admit they were wrong. 

The world is not a kind place. When we enter the real world, we will not be treated with “kid gloves.” People will not always be nice and nor will you get along with them. Being an adult means that you work with people even if you disagree or do not like them. You don’t censor them. If the Senate really wanted to make an impact, they should teach their members that.  

I stand by my record in Senate. I stand by the compromises I have made. I stand by my fellow members who warned of this. I stand by my principles. 

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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  1. I hope 20,000 is enough for a semester of funding. Long term thinking needs a comeback

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  2. Unless the executive board can demonstrate constitutional (that of the Student Senate) grounds for removal from the BMC, this should be seen as an unconstitutional act and handled accordingly by the faculty advisor. Moreover, the executive board has demonstrated abject intolerance for active fiscal conservatism on a committee where that perspective is most valuable. The Senate budget is not a petty cash drawer that groups may just draw from as they deem necessary; it is a shared resource that the Senate BMC is entrusted with, and enables groups to develop experiences that enrich the quality of a Gettysburg education. No group is automatically entitled to any budget requests exceeding $800, and the burden is on that group’s leadership to persuade Senators of the necessity of what it is they are seeking to fund. Without diligent oversight, these funds will be disbursed inappropriately and inefficiency, with the most money going to whichever group has the audacity to ask for the most. However unfortunate this is for Mr. DeMarco, this is also to the misfortune of the entire student body, and an indictment of the state of open debate on this campus.

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  3. I know this generation will hate this, but sometimes you have to SAY NO!!! You can’t bail Senate out with Dad’s credit card, kids! And what is happening behind closed doors at the B M C after they kick out all the dissenters? I’m just asking questions…do I get banned next?

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  4. It is clear that the executive board of the senate believes it is their power to dictate and legislative on behalf of the student body. Their overreach has gotten out of control. The parliamentarian needs to be impeached.

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