Student leaders neglect student advocacy

Last week, some interesting facts came to light regarding startling increases in the cost of Grand Forest apartments.
The Department of Housing and Residence Life officially posted an increase of more than $1,000 per semester after administrators, the Student Government Association’s Residential Affairs Committee and the Residence Hall Association stamped their seals of approval on next year’s housing rates.

After reading about the rate hike in last week’s edition of The University News, Res. Life officials realized that there was an error in next year’s rates.

The increase was a mistake, a big, juicy oversight that would have cost Grand Forest residents hundreds of extra dollars.
Yet, both student groups signed off on next year’s prices before they were ever published.

Chair of the Res. Affairs Committee Kate Sliney passed the buck to Res. Life Director Alvin Sturdivant, whom she said announced that rates wouldn’t increase more than $500, and left the examination of new rates at that. Meanwhile, RHA President Meghna Nagabhushan said she didn’t notice anything alarming about the rates at the time, either.

SGA President Sam Howard attempted to explain away the oversight, saying, “I don’t like to know secrets that I don’t need to know.”

It’s too bad for Howard that looking after student interests isn’t a secret-it’s her job.

These leaders were clearly ignorant of an increase that would have had a huge impact on the very students they were hired to look out for.

This raises serious questions about just how such a lack of oversight could have come about.

Vice President of Student Development Kent Porterfield admitted that these price increases were a mistake on the part of Res. Life, refusing to let student leaders take the fall for administrative error.

Yes, it’s clear that Howard, Sliney and Nagabhushan didn’t write the mistake into the room rates. Yet, in neglecting to critically review the information put before them, they fell short in their mission to serve SLU students. This is the very thing they were elected to do.

What else have they approved without reading? How else have they endangered student interests?

Though these leaders’ constituents will likely forgive them, trust in student leaders’ abilities will not be so easy to earn back.
Student leaders, you volunteered for these positions. You made a mistake. Now learn from it. Students really are counting on you.