With a somber note of acceptance, Billy Plastine, executive president of the Student Government Association (SGA), raised his gavel for the last time — at least as a student at the College. The senior political science and business administration double major presided over his final SGA meeting on April 28, during which the organization bade farewell to its outgoing executive board and ushered in a new one.
The so-called transition meeting, held in the Allen Hall drawing room, also commemorated the accomplishments of senior members, elected a speaker of the general assembly for the next academic year and failed the Student Finance Board’s (SFB) resolution calling for SGA support for a $45 increase to the Student Activity Fee (SAF).
The SGA blocked R-S2010-06 by a majority vote. The resolution, which would have voiced the SGA’s support for a $45 increase to the SAF, was proposed, outlined and put to a vote during the April 21 meeting.
The SGA general body voted down the resolution initially, but Plastine vetoed the decision, keeping the verdict in the air until Wednesday’s revote. The general body had the choice to override Plastine’s veto by a two-thirds majority or let it stand.
“Overriding my veto means that the resolution will fail. Not overriding the veto means that the motion will pass,” Plastine explained. “If you say ‘yes,’ you do not want the resolution to pass. If you say ‘no,’ you want the resolution to pass.”
Students were divided on the issue.
Olaniyi Solebo, incoming SGA executive president, and Anthony Lista, outgoing senior class president, spoke in support of the $45 increase.
“After having been here for four years, I can say if you want to keep student life the way it is, you have to pass this bill,” Lista, senior nursing major, said.
Lista’s rationale mirrored that of Plastine, who explained why he issued the veto in a letter to the SGA general assembly.
“I believe that an increase in the fee is in the best interest of the student body … Increasing the number and quality of programs that student organizations will be able to put on next year can help to offset (the) impending negative implications of continued budget cuts to our college. The ability for the Student Finance Board to support these programs/initiatives depends on an increase in the SAF,” Plastine wrote.
Corey Dwyer, incoming executive vice president and sophomore political science major, and Alli Clare, junior class vice president and math and elementary education double major, spoke in favor of overriding the veto and defeating the resolution. The two expressed their desire that the current SAF be allocated more efficiently, not raised, to increase the quality of events.
The vote, taken by hand-raise, overrode the veto 23-19. A second vote was cast deliberating R-S2010-06. The resolution was struck down by majority vote.
The SGA also underwent the election process for a speaker of the general assembly, nominating four of its members and choosing one by majority vote to “represent the Senate as liaison to the executive board,” as the job description reads on the SGA’s website.
“We would like to go into the summer with a full executive board,” Solebo said, explaining why the process was completed with such expedience.
Kelly Kosch, sophomore English and secondary education double major, was elected speaker of the general assembly from a pool of four. Also nominated were Sean Parsons, junior political science major, Amanda Esposito, junior history major, and Katie Cugliotta, freshman history and secondary education major.
Graduating seniors bid the SGA farewell, shed a few tears and reminisced. Plastine thanked the SGA for making his tenure as executive president what it was.
“I woke up every morning proud to be the president of this organization,” Plastine said. To the outgoing executive board, he added, “The amount of work that you have dedicated to this organization is incredible.”
Plastine then swore in the upcoming year’s executive board, leaving them with some words of wisdom.
“Demand nothing less than excellence from yourself and the organization around you,” he said.
Solebo, sophomore political science and economics double major, took up the mantle as the executive president for the next academic year. He reflected upon the outgoing executive board’s accomplishments.
“It’s been a fantastic year, and I know that we have humongous shoes to fill,” Solebo said.