SGA Argues How to Spend Athletic Fees

Sophomore defender Jessie Eberhardt (21) steals the ball from junior forward Washida Blackman (13). The Eagles have the opportunity to leap up the conference standings with a victory against Elon University.Photo by: Ryan Woodham

Sophomore defender Jessie Eberhardt (21) steals the ball from junior forward Washida Blackman (13). The Eagles have the opportunity to leap up the conference standings with a victory against Elon University.Photo by: Ryan Woodham

By Daylon Bonner, Staff Writer

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SGA President Ambanpola made a presentation, on behalf of the Strategic Planning committee, detailing the goals and values of the University going forward. The five core areas outlined in the document are Openness and Inclusion, Good Stewardship, Collaboration, Inventiveness / Innovation, and Personal Transformation. President Ambanpola considers the document to be of highest importance as all Georgia Southern events, clubs, etc. will have to meet at least one of the outlined values in the document. Furthermore, the document is likely to hold true for the foreseeable future.

Given that this document is only a draft, sessions are to be held by the Strategic Planning committee with the aim of collecting feedback for parties with a vested interest (e.g., students, faculty, administration). The first is to be held on Friday April 20, 2018 from 10:00 am to noon, and the second is to be held on April 24th from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm. Both sessions will take place in the Ogeechee theater.  

A point was raised by Senator Tyler Tyack concerning donors who have been unwilling to donate to the new Georgia Southern. He questioned whether the administration had seriously considered the viewpoints of these donors. He would go on to state that an unnamed family member, who made a significant donation to the new tennis courts, is adamantly opposed to donating to Georgia Southern as they feel the university essentially took their money and cut them loose.

In response President Ambanpola stated that the section of the document related to Collaboration should explicitly state values in support of alumni and previous donors. He also spoke of a vote in which the committee chose to keep all funds from scholarships and the like exclusively on the Armstrong campus. However, he did also express doubt concerning whether the donors who had chosen to not support Georgia Southern would return in the future.

After the presentation by the SGA President, a lengthy discussion took place concerning Bill 6 (042018-B6: ”Student Input for Athletic Renovations”). The bill revolved around uncollected input from the student body concerning the proposed renovation to the athletic facilities. The bill was presented by Senator Mary Kate Moore. The bill spoke of three proposals from the administration about possible uses of revenue collected from athletic fees. The first is about renovations of the soccer fields and tennis courts for the eventual purpose of hosting athletic events on the Armstrong campus. The second aims to create an outdoor recreation facility near the old tennis courts. The third would repurpose the softball and baseball fields into general purpose recreation fields. Proposals two and three received minimal resistance while the first was contested heavily.

The SGA wishes to include the students in the process of the conversion as it will incur a cost of at least $2 million and will affect the students for years to come. Furthermore, additional costs will be incurred by this renovation considering the facility, should they truly move forward with having athletic events on this campus, will have to adhere to guidelines set forth by the division and by the contract between the school and ESPN. This means new bathroom facilities, parking lot renovations, concessions, etc. To quote the rationale of the drafters of the bill, “a proposal of such magnitude, cost, and long-term significance should not be determined solely by Student Government, but by the student body, whose fees would be paying for this proposal.”

The sentiments of the Bill rationale were echoed by multiple Senators. In particular, Senators Tyack, Padridin, Evans and Cummings would all express varying levels of support for the Bill. Senator Padridin expressed interest in collaborating with Senator Moore directly to collect student data while Senator Cummings supported the idea but requested a different method of information acquisition than a simple survey by e-mail, his rationale being that a decision of this level of importance should not be made on the feedback of less than five hundred students. Senator Tyack offered to build upon what Senator Cummings stated and wished to be involved as chair of the Student Life committee. He also opposed a hurried approach on the renovation by stating, “I do not think thirty votes gives me the right to decide on a $2 million plus issue.” Senator Evans proposed holding off on data collection until the following semester as the Freshman coming in in the Fall will have full knowledge of the consolidation and offered arguably the best data on how to proceed with the renovations.

Given that this was the last chance of the semester to vote on legislation, Senator Tyack called for an immediate vote on the Bill which would result in it carrying through the Senate.

The Senate would then vote in favor of Resolution seventeen which supports the creation of a 24/5 learning facility.

The SGA will have its final meeting of the semester next week.