Editorial Board

Student Association leaders need to learn the rules they’re supposed to play by, rather than play the blame game

Zach Barlow | Staff Photographer

After failing to follow procedure regarding his budget proposal, Student Association President Eric Evangelista will share the proposal electronically with assembly members.

The leaders of any organization should be well-read on the rules that bind their actions, but the Student Association officials who neglected to ensure the proper, procedural approval of the organization’s budget demonstrated a clear ignorance of the SA bylaws that originated from a lack of self-education.

SA President Eric Evangelista, who was previously investigated for a violation of the bylaws, said at the organization’s March 20 meeting that he submitted his annual budget proposal to the SA Finance Board without first receiving approval from the cabinet and assembly.

In his failure to run the budget proposal by the cabinet and assembly, Evangelista violated articles of the bylaws that require SA’s operating budget to be approved by the cabinet and assembly before being forwarded to the Finance Board. In doing so, he showed an unfamiliarity with the bylaws that lay the groundwork of the organization he is in charge of.

Evangelista said he “did not know” that the bylaws required the cabinet and assembly to approve the budget proposal prior to the Finance Board, and added that this information “was something my predecessors did not do and did not convey to me either.”

Evangelista’s two most recent predecessors — Aysha Seedat and Boris Gresely, who oversaw the 59th and 58th legislative sessions, respectively — both disputed these claims and said they followed the budget proposal approval procedure correctly.

But when it comes to the written rules that outline what SA officials can and cannot do, there’s no room for precedent. Evangelista should own up to his mistake, rather than cop out and blame his ignorance on the presidents who came before him. The actions of his predecessors are not relevant to the leaders of the current legislative session, who should perhaps concern themselves with learning the bylaws.

The failure of SA leadership to follow procedure regarding the budget proposal was acknowledged by Obi Afriyie, the organization’s parliamentarian, and Nicole Sherwood, its public relations chair.

Afriyie said at SA’s March 20 meeting that decisions based on precedent were not excuses for ignoring the bylaws. Sherwood said the cabinet members “failed to be on top of what was happening.”

Sherwood added that the budget approval fiasco was a “mistake” that could not be fixed. The proper approval process that is outlined in the bylaws will not be followed this semester, and instead, Evangelista will share the budget with the assembly electronically. Considering the approval of the budget is one of the most tangible and impactful tasks SA is charged with, it’s disheartening to see that its approval procedure was not and will not be properly handled.

Moving forward, it’s up to Evangelista and other SA leaders to do their jobs by the rules, and properly represent the more than 14,000 students they were chosen to speak on behalf of. Playing the blame game is not the way to build a positive reputation around the organization one represents, nor is lacking an understanding of the actual game’s rules.

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