The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

S.G.I. candidates discuss budget, organizations at first debate

Student organizations and budgets were major subjects at the first of two debates between candidates for this year’s S.G.I. elections.

The first debate was held March 23, the second – to be held at night – was held the following day.

The day debate between P.O.W.E.R. and F.O.R.C.E. allowed students to hear what each ticket stood for and what changes they planned to make to S.G.I. After each ticket answered prepared questions, the floor was open to students. Several students brought up concerns and problems with the current system of distributing funds to student organizations compared to how they are for Greek letter organizations.

While P.O.W.E.R. felt that the standards for student organizations should be raised, such as what events they held and how many, F.O.R.C.E. took the stance that the organizations needed more guidance.

Tongtong Zhu, secretarial candidate for P.O.W.E.R., suggested that organizations needed “empowerment” more than they needed “guidance.” Meredith Kenyon, his opponent from F.O.R.C.E., disagreed – saying that organizations are “lost” and they currently do not have the resources to go by the same standards as Greek organizations.

Brittany Mahabeer, a sophomore and member of Zeta Phi Beta, said that she supported finding a balance for all organizations to be governed by. “I feel like if other organizations were held on the same level as Greek level organizations there wouldn’t be such a disconnect,” Mahabeer said.

According to Patrick Brewer, the current president of S.G.I., student organizations began submitting their own budget plans in the 2009-2010 academic year. Before that, the organizations went by similar guidelines to those that are used for Greek organizations, the Five Star Program. Brewer explained these required cultural events, academic events and others, some of which did not seem necessary for certain organizations.

Another issue brought up was the S.G.I. budget and how each ticket would make funding information more available to students. Both parties’ candidates for treasurer discussed the need for transparency by making budget information more available to students.

One student suggested that candidates look into cutting the amount of stipend given to the electoral board instead of cutting an organization’s budget. P.O.W.E.R. Presidential Candidate Sabino Curcio said that he was for the idea but did not have enough information at this time to provide to students. F.O.R.C.E. candidate Andre McDonald told the room that the stipends were based on hierarchy within S.G.I. and treated like a salary. McDonald explained that he relied on that money as he devotes much of his day to working in the student government’s office.

F.O.R.C.E. candidates said they felt budgets should be incentive based. This included how student organizations performed academically and with event attendance.


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