SGA meets with Klotzbier, discusses changes to Student Affairs, scholarships

SGA meets with Klotzbier, discusses changes to Student Affairs, scholarships

By Ricky Thompson and Jessica Torrez-Riley

Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Klotzbier unveiled a proposal for a merit-based student leadership program to the Student Government Association (SGA) at a night senate meeting last night.

The “Leadership Scholars Program” would recognize “up to 30 students for campus involvement with a $5,000 tuition waiver,” according to the proposal, which was co-signed by John Silveria, who assumed his new position as director of Student Leadership and Engagement today.

In addition, scholarship winners would be required to participate in a weekly, non-credit seminar “that will encompass student leadership history and theory, reflection, application, and peer to peer mentoring and interaction,” the proposal states.

Silveria said the proposal would allow an opportunity for other student leaders to be recognized in a scholarship program.

“If a student can’t serve in the executive board of SGA because of a co-op requirement in their major, then it doesn’t allow them the opportunity to get free tuition,” Silveria said. “This model isn’t just based on the position, it’s also based on an academic component.”

In order to qualify for the proposed program, applicants must be an executive board member of a registered student organization and maintain a minimum 3.25 QPA.

Silveria said the proposal’s academic qualification is a necessary emphasis.

“To be good student leaders, you also need to be a scholar, and I think setting the bar in that way sends the message,” he said.

However, John Guilfoil, SGA executive vice president for student affairs, said the restriction takes away from the scholarship program’s original intent.

“We’re not awarding for excellence in the classroom, we’re awarding for excellence in the meeting room, Guilfoil said. “This is something different that awards students for leadership.”

Yesterday, SGA submitted an alternative to the university’s proposal to replace the tuition-free compensation model currently in place.

The SGA’s model opts to create 22 six-month tuition waivers through a three-tiered system that would make different levels of student leadership to be compensated accordingly. Four scholarships would be issued for $10,000, eight for $7,500 and 10 for $5,000.

Guilfoil said the tier system is necessary to reflect the requirements of holding office among the university’s more than 220 recognized student organizations.

“I’m not saying that some student groups work harder than others, but it is just the nature of some offices to require more of a time commitment,” he said.

SGA President Ashley Adams echoed Guilfoil’s sentiment, and said the SGA proposal allows more student leaders the chance to participate, without compensating each at the same level.

The university’s proposal is “much too uniform,” Adams said.

“It accepts leadership as being at one level and one level only, and it didn’t recognize the different aspects and the different qualities that some student groups have, and the differences between a developing student group and a developed student group,” she said.

Klotzbier’s discussion last night was an extension of the SGA Senate meeting last week, when he visited to address questions and concerns about the recent restructuring of the Office of Student Affairs.

The high tension from the restructure, which led SGA to convene in a private, executive session two weeks ago, was still apparent at the start of last Thursday’s meeting.

Guilfoil began the meeting by claiming the university’s administration “is challenging student government,” citing the lack of student involvement in the restructuring and the removal of the free tuition compensation model.

He warned SGA to “be ready” for when he and Klotzbier returned from the OSCCR Code of Conduct review meeting, which was scheduled at the same time as Senate. The message to remain calm and hold back tempers when questioning Klotzbier was emphasized by multiple senators prior to the vice president’s arrival.

Klotzbier presented the diagram and the specifics of the restructure to SGA, and explained how the idea developed since he began working in Student Affairs three years ago. His focus was on the need to combine ResLife and Housing Services, make off-campus students aware of on-campus activities, and increase his involvement with student leaders.

One main concern of the SGA was where compensations for the promotions stemming from the restructure were coming from, and whether they would affect the Student Affairs budget.

“There is no new money,” Klotzbier said. The compensations are “modest increases taken out of the existing budget,” he said.

As time ran out at the Senate meeting, Guilfoil asked Klotzbier why SGA had not been presented with the diagram of the restructure prior to the day the information was released university-wide.

After asking how many times Guilfoil had met with him over the past months, Klotzbier responded, “Had you and I met more, you would have been one of the student leaders I had talked with about this.”

Due to time constraints, questions were cut short and yesterday night’s senate meeting was scheduled to address the remaining concerns and allow senators on co-op to participate.

The atmosphere around Klotzbier’s presentation last night was much more relaxed than Thursday, said MJ Paradiso, SGA assistant vice president for academic affairs.

“The tension cooled,” he said. “Instead of focusing on what went wrong, we need to recognize that these are good changes for the university and need to focus on it.”

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