KSU Organizations will not endorse USG Candidates


Undergraduate Student Government candidates debate in the Rathskellar, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, for the upcoming elections.

Blair Donald

The Kent State College Republicans, College Democrats and PRIDE! Kent released a joint statement on Tuesday announcing that none of the groups will endorse any Undergraduate Student Government candidates in the upcoming election.

The issue arose after months of frustration, said Dillon Lloyd, a member of the College Republicans who is leading the group on this issue, which came from the fact that the printer provided for student organizations to use had been out of ink for months.

“I think it started with the basic responsibility that we come in contact with every day which is for them to keep the printer working,” Lloyd said. “And it’s not like we were upset, and they didn’t know about it, it was months and months of us telling them that the printer needed fixed. And it only got fixed maybe two weeks ago.”

The inkless printer led to questions of responsibility and ultimately where the funding for more ink was, said Bryan Staul, president of the College Democrats.

“The printer, slowly as months wore on, evolved into questions like, ‘Alright, where is the money going?’ Staul said. “We could not find the budget online, that became increasingly frustrating, and no one was asking questions.”

“It’s basic democratic values that I think we’re all standing up for, it’s basic concepts of how a government should function,” he said.

The search for the budget was what led the organizations to the decision to act, Staul said.

“This did not happen overnight. For weeks, Dillon [Lloyd] and I warned them, kept telling them, we want this budget publically or we want it ourselves,” Staul said. “And it went ignored.”

Brandon Stephens, president of PRIDE! Kent, Kent State’s LGBTQ alliance, said that the problem could be USG’s perspective.

“I think, like a lot of elected officials, once they’re elected they’ve forgotten that they are elected,” Stephens said, “and that their budget and their salary is supplied by the students who have elected them. It’s become blatantly obvious to us that they’ve forgotten the core value of democracy and how the student government should be run by the students.”

After months of asking for the budget, which was approved on June 8, 2013, it was published Feb. 18. But the budget itself led to more questions from the student organizations.

“We asked specifically what certain things on here are, and they do not know,” Staul said, “they literally do not know what certain things are on their own budget. And my God, we’re paying them.”

“The community walk was one of them,” Lloyd said. “No idea what the community walk is.”

Staul continued, “And it might be a perfectly valid function. Many of these things might be, but no one knows.”

“If you vote for it, you should own it and know what it is,” Lloyd said. “And they don’t, they don’t know and that’s ridiculous. Co-sponsored events total $62,000, and I want to know what these co-sponsored events are.”

The public USG budget is their programming budget, and although it is broken down into sections it lacks some clarification. Stephens said that the street team, allotted $1,000 a year, had not been active that he had seen in nearly two years.

“I haven’t seen anybody on the street team this year, whereas when I was a freshman and Kevin Papp was executive director, I saw the street team close to every day.” he said. “I have not seen the street team for at least two years. I have not seen anybody out on the ground with clipboards doing anything.”

However, Staul said, “this is not a ‘we hate USG’ thing, this is an accountability thing.”

“I don’t mind programming because that money, something tangible is coming out of it, there are concerts,” Lloyd said. “Allocations, they’re getting some of the money back for their organizations. As far as this USG budget that we have in front of us, I don’t see much coming out of it. At least not for students.”

“We’ve all seen tangible results from allocations and programming, PRIDE! Kent has benefitted from allocations, they paid for our conference.” Stephens said.

Kayla Morrison, a junior paralegal studies major who is running for the Director of Governmental Affairs, said that she approached the College Republicans for an endorsement, but when she learned what they were announcing she decided to support them.

“Being a candidate for USG, I’m looking to further my experience as a student leader. To be a student leader you have to be accountable and responsible and have a certain level of integrity,” she said. “I’m happy to join with them to fight for transparency in USG because that’s the respect, integrity and respect the USG should show.”

At the time of the interview, the USG had not responded to the press release, which was “shocking” to Staul.

“They couldn’t even come down, it’s ten feet from the rest of our offices that are right next to each other, and they couldn’t come down, they couldn’t set up a meeting,” Staul said. “I don’t think that release would have happened if they one, published their budget when they passed it, and two, if they had worked with us and understood our frustration.”

Morrison said that it was not only important for USG to respond but to also “react and to not just say sorry but outline a plan to make it better.”

“I would approach the organizations and say, ‘Hey, what can we do to fix this, what specific thing needs to happen for your frustration to be alleviated’ and figure out a way to fix the problem,” she said. “We are ultimately the voice of the students and need to listen to the students, and if we aren’t, we are not doing our job. The candidates running should be committed to advocating for transparency.”

Amish Patel, current executive director of the USG, said that he does not believe the USG has had issues with transparency.

“We’re here for the students,” Patel said. “If they want to hear something from us, we’re about meeting. We genuinely want to hear it if someone has a new thought or some kind of change that they want to see, we’re all ears.”

Staul, Stephens and Lloyd all agreed that USG needs to change the way things work.

“They shouldn’t be battling us on transparency and openness,” Staul said. “It got the College Republicans, the College Democrats, and PRIDE! to unite on a statement. So I guess they succeeded in uniting student organizations.”

Click these links for more information about USG, Dems, GOP, and PRIDE.

Contact Blair Donald at [email protected].