OUR VIEW: A Spark Forward’s report card

AT ISSUE: The Daily News editorial board evaluates the outgoing executive slate’s work

Looking forward

Inauguration for the new Student Government Association executive board is today at 3:30 p.m. in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center Cardinal Hall B. The event is open to everyone.

This editorial is the opinion of The Ball State Daily News and does not necessarily reflect the views ballstatedaily.com.

At the beginning of the academic year, the president of the Student Government Association resigned, following backlash from racially insensitive tweets he published.

The  incident could easily have isolated SGA from the rest of the student body. Instead, it seems outreach has been this executive board’s strongest platform.

“[The tweets] hurt our organization — it put a damper on our reputation and the way a lot of students saw us,” outgoing Vice President Alyssa France said at the time. “But for the first time in my four years of college, students were talking about our organization. It became the perfect time for us to seek them out. For once, they wanted to give us their opinion.”

The team educated groups across campus about co-sponsorship possibilities, offering funds to 46 organizations. It increased visibility and accessibility overall by hosting spaghetti dinners with different organizations, and the Twitter account @BallStateSGA’s followers almost doubled.

SGA offered surveys to constituents and passed resolutions about significant issues, such as House Joint Resolution 3 to ensure the university listened to students’ voices.

The executive board did not meet every goal so successfully, though.

When campaigning, the slate told students it had the lofty goal of creating a Blue Light App that would allow students to use their smartphones to alert authorities of dangerous situations or predators on campus. After three semesters, no such app exists.

This is the most glaring failure, as others are more subtly tucked away behind the ambiguity of the initial platform points.

The board said SGA “[marketed] academic resources” and “[improved] lighting on and off campus” in a slideshow presentation to the Senate that the Daily News received. Such ambiguous phrases and others make it difficult to determine what SGA itself might consider a success. For instance, lights on Martin Street, southeast of campus, were installed over the summer. Does this isolated instance mean the corresponding platform was a success?

Overall, the amount the board managed to accomplish — the sheer volume of events, meetings, resolutions in which the board was involved — is indeed impressive, given that the members are students, as well.

But what they did well does not reconcile the fact that they let a few platform points fall flat. The student body that elected the board did so with the expectation that A Spark Forward would follow through with all promises, and the members did not.

For that reason, The Daily News editorial board gives the outgoing executive board a B- for its performance, the same grade its predecessor, Alliance,  received.

Safety: Increase transportation and lighting and create a Blue Light App

For evidence this is a failed point, search for a Blue Light App or stand on side streets around campus at night.

There is no Blue Light App, and vast areas around Ball State are still lacking illumination.

The board did pass a resolution co-sponsored by a University Police Department officer that encouraged the university to change lights across campus to LEDs. But even the certainty of its outcome is unclear.

If the board had a clearly defined action plan for how next year’s SGA Senate or the incoming board might continue with this goal, we would feel comfortable with the actions. However, this is not the case, and the lack of lights is a dark spot on the board’s record.

Pride: Revive campus traditions like Homecoming Village, start new events and work with alumni

The board started Countdown 2 Kickoff, a football tailgating alternative for Ball State students. It bought 200 cupcakes for Benny’s Birthday Bash, continued the T-shirt trade-in program from previous years and sponsored student prizes for athletic events.

It also co-sponsored this year’s Homecoming Village, which entertained about 2,700 students and featured a zipline and mechanical bull.

The executive board used its resources to supplement events meant to benefit students. Because of this, and especially because of the cupcakes, we consider this platform point a success.

Relationships: Communicate between SGA and other organizations, host spaghetti dinners for organizations and executive board

Representatives made themselves available at different retreats and workshops geared toward helping student organizations perform effectively. Three spaghetti dinners offered organizations the opportunity to meet with the board in personal settings, and SGA was present at all activity fairs.

The pro tempore and senate also began Blitz Week to offer students a more accessible way to learn about SGA’s role on campus.

Jennifer Jones-Hall, faculty adviser, said she thinks students are more aware of SGA and what it does this year than years prior.

Academics: Market academic resources, partner with Rinker Center for International Programs and provide assistance for study abroad

Perhaps the most notable evidence of the board’s success in this point is the creation of a $500 scholarship to assist students traveling abroad.

The board also used @BallStateSGA to promote organizations and initiatives on campus, such as emergency notifications, Dance Marathon and Unity Week.

Though it is unclear exactly how effective the marketing strategies were, the Twitter account grew by about 600 followers, giving it almost 1,200 followers. Still, Ball State’s Twitter account dwarfs this with 12,100 followers, and it is a campus of more than 17,800 students.

Community: Market events in Muncie to students

In an attempt to encourage student participation in Muncie events, SGA created designated ambassadors to act as liaisons between campus and the  community surrounding.

The group offered volunteers and promoted for events, such as Light Up Downtown. Representatives also attended a DWNTWN basketball game.

Yet, it is unclear if any of the efforts actually increased student attendance of Muncie events.

Furthermore, the slate had discussed starting an event downtown specifically geared toward students, but ultimately opted not to.

All in all, this platform point seems underdeveloped as a whole — an opportunity to bridge the town and gown divide that fell flat.


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