USS response: Referendum helps students, necessary for improvements

Thirty-two years. That is how long our student government at Kent State has been the same as it is now.

Today, students have an extraordinary opportunity to change all that. A few weeks ago, your Undergraduate Student Senate voted unanimously to place a referendum on today’s USS elections ballot for your consideration. As your student body president, I urge you to agree with your student senate and vote yes.

When you vote yes today, you will help to evolve our student government into what it should be, what you as a Kent State student deserves it to be. The proposed new student government will be larger, more representative, more diverse, and will have the oversight to spend more of your tuition money more responsibly. The changes would include the addition of 16 new senators to represent 10 of the academic colleges, on and off-campus students, as well as international, non-traditional and diversity students. More input and more diverse voices will be involved in the decision making process as your student government plans projects and initiatives, passes legislation and spends your tuition dollars.

Also when you vote yes today, student-run programming on our campus will improve. An elected student will select and chair a programming committee that will operate as a part of the student government. This programming committee will be selected similarly to the USS allocations committee, with numerous student organizations having their say in the selection process. The new programming board will operate in much of the same way as the current All Campus Programming Board, but with a few important differences.

The major difference is that one student club (ACPB) will no longer be getting more than $286,000 of your tuition dollars to spend carelessly at will. There will now be an elected student chairing a committee of qualified, experienced student programmers to plan our campus concerts and some other events. This means democracy at its finest: qualified individuals, earning their place at the decision-making table based on their ideas, goals, experience and merits. No more internally promoted leaders from one student club getting a blank check. An important new oversight will also be placed over how these funds are spent, by requiring a majority vote of the student government to approve a program or concert and its budget. This should help to alleviate the recurring complaints of wasted money on programming and bad concerts that are of concern year after year . All of the traditional programs ACPB annually provides will still happen. This will simply ensure that campus events are not double-booked for the same date, are advertised effectively, and are actually appealing to our students; do you really want thousands of your dollars spent on events that cannot claim these things? All of these problems have occurred just this year alone.

Vote no, and nothing will change. Student government will still be just nine people, the smallest of any state school in Ohio. Our programming and concerts will remain sub-par and stay in the control of a single student club that selects its own members un-democratically and promotes its leaders from within.

Please vote yes for a more democratic process. Vote yes for better concerts and programs that our students actually want to attend. Vote yes for a better Kent State experience.

The above column was submitted by the current USS Executive Director Ross Miltner.