PantherNOW Editorial Board
It’s been nearly a year and we’re still waiting for the Graham Center game room renovation to finish. But the backing of the project itself raises questions about the integrity of SGA and even FIU’s administration.
The game room is just one of several continued faults within SGA: a lack of transparency and accountability, a consolidation of power to the executive branch and little regard for FIU students when it comes to their concerns.
A $1.2 million dollar project cost using $980,000 of SGA funds is a lot of money to be controlled entirely by one student.
Former SGA president Alexander Rubido implemented the project exclusively through executive orders, requiring the sole approval from administration and the executive board that he appointed himself.
Renovations are very expensive and sometimes take longer than expected. What’s concerning is the lack of checks and balances within SGA and transparency in how they operate.
The game room is a clear example of how SGA’s current structure facilitates an imbalance of power in favor of the executive branch.
A single student should not be able to override the other SGA branches and act like they’re serving students when in reality, there is no way for anyone to check or disapprove of their decisions.
Allowing one student to control more than $1 million in student fees — as well as set up the constitution to give himself practically unlimited power — reflects poorly on everyone because it signals that FIU doesn’t care about the democratic process that should be in place for student leadership.
No other public university in Florida allows the executive branch of student government to pass executive orders with only administrative permission.
There need to be avenues for both the rest of SGA and the student body to check the power of the executive branch.
A commission was established through executive order again, over a month and a half after the former president began officially exploring the game room renovation. Rubido headed the committee, praising its efforts in collecting student feedback for a variety of spaces.
Yet, when asked for records of survey responses, Rubido couldn’t even recall if they were published. And according to SGA members within various committees, input wasn’t near the scale of the actual renovations.
The fact that students can’t even see their peers’ thoughts on a million-dollar project is alarming.
There weren’t even reports or minutes available from commission meetings, much less a detailed mention of reports in executive board meetings.
Despite promising the project would be completed by the new year, the game room remains far from finished.
For major projects like this, students should be able to get involved and SGA needs to be active in making students how they can be involved with student life — not just putting up a flyer and calling it a day.
Former senator Josh Mandall said that often, senators were not even made aware of executive orders until after the fact. It’s not just that SGA is an island away from the rest of FIU students. The executive branch consistently works over, not with, the other branches.
Especially without a judicial branch for over a year, the executive and legislative branches are perpetually at odds with each other, with the executive branch looming over senate proceedings.
The senate and judiciary should be able to check the executive branch and the student body needs to be aware of their own power in FIU’s student government.
Hopefully, the game room is where this stops. FIU needs to be represented by student leaders who truly want to serve the student body, not by individuals who are looking out for their own interests.