Students voiced disappointments with the Student Government Association (SGA) at their weekly meeting.
Marcus Destin, a student who attends meeting almost every week, stepped up to the microphone after the call for student feedback.
He said he no longer felt a sense of family at USD and part of this is due to division amongst SGA that he found “sickening.”
“When you come and you can feel the tension in the SGA meetings and you see the looks and you see the messages going back and forth…the goal is no longer the focus of the student but the focus of the individual of the student sitting in the seat at the table. That’s not a good feeling,” Destin said.
Destin called on each individual member around the table to question why they joined SGA.
“I’m not talking about that campaign slogan and I’m not talking about the one-liner you gave to get the seat that you’re in,” he said. “Is it a popularity contest? Is it a Tuesday night filler? Is this something you do to pass the time? Is this just something you do for your resumé? Why are we here?”
Personal conflicts within SGA are preventing senators from representing the students, especially ones too scared to come to SGA meetings, Destin said.
“If you don’t like the person sitting next to you, you leave that outside the door because when bills come, if you’re making it hard for (the executive team) or the person next to you and you’re just doing it to give somebody a hard time, guess who else you’re giving a hard time? The students,” he said.
Carson Zubke, SGA president, said Destin brought great insight.
“I think the most important thing for us to do is build relationships and come to the meeting with an open mind,” Zubke said. “You know we always will hear about ‘well why isn’t there student feedback here?’… and I think he brought up a lot of good points that I hope that Senate will take into consideration and the executive team will take into consideration.”
Libby Bullerdick, former external overall chair of Dakotathon, also expressed frustration with SGA.
At last week’s meeting, SGA voted no on Dakotathon’s request for a clothing budget exemption specifically for event shirts under the precedent that any item of clothing kept after an event is a gift and therefore cannot be funded by SGA.
Choking up, Bullerdick said the $3,000 used for shirts was not only a necessary expense for security purposes, but since it wasn’t covered by SGA that expense will be taken out of their $208,000 raised.
“I know we’re asking for a lot with $3,000 but even if you were to cover half the cost that’s another kid at camp, that’s three more families for a year-long full of reimbursements for mileage, cystic fibrosis medication and diabetes that isn’t covered by insurance,” Bullerdick said.
Senator Rachael Meinders originally advocated for Dakotathon’s exemption, then voted no said her opinion that night was changed when considering the precedents that had already been set.
“I can understand their frustration for sure… but I do think they’re personally involved and I would encourage them to take a step back talk to some of the senators,” Meinders said. “And SGA makes mistakes, sure. I’m not necessarily saying we made one now, but it’s a further conversation to have.”
Destin also encouraged SGA to move forward with the conversation on these issues.
“And my question to SGA is: now what?”