SGA execs disappointed with scholarship legislation

An addition of scholarships to the SGA budget, which was passed Monday, has ruffled the feathers of the executive board.A total of $1,200 in scholarships was passed in SGA’s budget for two members of the House of Student Representatives Monday. There are three scholarships in total, which would provide $200 per semester to the selected students. These are aimed to encourage student involvement in the House of Student Representatives throughout the semester, according to house bill 93-13, submitted Nov. 28, 2006.

The scholarships will be funded out of the $24 student fee paid by TCU students every semester.

Jace Thompson, student body president, said he was unhappy where the funding for the scholarships was coming from.

“We don’t feel, as a whole, that it is SGA’s job to take student money and spend it on House members,” Thompson said. “If a student can afford TCU, $200 of scholarship money is not going to make that big a difference.”

However, Jaylee Maruk, a sophomore European studies major, said she disagrees with TCU students paying for other TCU students because there is no explanation as to how the students will be selected to receive these benefits.

Ralph Carter, chair of the political science department, said voting for scholarship which could potentially benefit the same house members who voted for it could appear as a conflict of interest to some people.

Carter said, according to the 27th Amendment to the constitution, no law varying the compensation of members of congress can take effect until after the next election for members of the house.

“That’s the effort to prevent an immediate enrichment for those who just voted to approve a raise in pay,” he said.

Larry Markley, director of the Student Center, disagreed with the scholarships being funded out of the student fee.

“I’m never in favor of using student money this way.” Markley said. “I don’t think it’s legitimate to use one student’s money to pay for another.”

If the SGA members who voted to establish these scholarships are immediately eligible for them, that would create the appearance of a conflict of interest in the minds of many.

“At the same time, not everyone is lucky enough to have help to pay for college,” Maruk said. “I know several people who are in debt and are barely making it by going to TCU.”

Nate Arnold, student body treasurer, said only unpaid members of the House are eligible for the scholarships.

“It’s ironic (SGA) voted down the first budget because of worries about not enough funding for activities, but they are investing $1,200 in scholarships for house members,” Arnold said. “I don’t think that this is right, and I don’t think it’s the goal of SGA.”

Arnold said the future of the scholarships is unclear because of the opposition, which the bill is facing from the executive board.

“It’ll be interesting to see how this progresses,” Arnold said. “No one knows if this will work.”

Former SGA member and 2006 RTVF alumnus, Glenton Richards co-authored the bill adding the scholarships to the budget. He said the scholarships are designed to encourage recruitment and retention within SGA.

“Students volunteer many hours a semester to help SGA run smoothly,” Richards said. “This is a way of showing a few of those volunteers that we appreciate their efforts.”

Thompson said the scholarships are legal under the SGA bylaws, and the scholarships went through a heated debate before they were passed with a 19-8 vote.

“As you can see, it was not a unanimous vote,” Thompson said. “There are other ways to congratulate house members for their hard work. In the past, we’ve sent out thank you notes or given out gift cards.”

The scholarship bill was brought up at the end of the Fall semester, when meeting attendance had decreased, Thompson said.

“Thirty out of the total 56 seats were filled,” Thompson said. “Not all the seats were filled, but it was a legitimate vote.”

Thompson said if the scholarship bill was brought up this semester that it would not pass but the budget cannot be changed per item.