The fee will no longer appear as a referendum on tomorrow’s ballot due to tech issues.
For a long time, TSG Senator Kyle Goldstein, a junior civil engineering major, said he didn’t even know there was a possibility for the hot-topic green fee to go on today’s TSG election ballot as a referendum.
Although he was unsure he completely agreed with the decision to put the fee on the ballot, Goldstein said he was ready to do his part in campaigning for the Students for Environmental Action organization’s cause.
“I didn’t even know the green fee was going to be on the ballot until I was forwarded an e-mail that was on the Honors listserv,” Goldstein said. “That’s when I realized, ‘Oh, I have to get this campaign going.’ SEA had their campaign, and I wanted the university affairs committee to work on another campaign to put the two together and advertise this next week because we had such little time.”
Goldstein spent hours designing buttons and postcards and figuring out the cost of campaigning items. He contacted Director of Student Activities Gina D’Annunzio and went to her office Thursday to finalize the order. Much to Goldstein’s surprise, D’Annunzio told him that the green fee would not be on the TSG ballot.
“We wanted the green fee to be on the ballot, and we thought it was, but it was never going to be on the ballot,” Goldstein said.
He explained that the issue was not just that the green fee was not going to be put on the ballot, but that there was a Computer Services problem as well. Computer Services created a Web site for the TSG elections and updated it with the election information weeks ago. Last week, TSG Senate President Colin Saltry, a sophomore economics major, wanted the green fee added to the Web site, but Computer Services could not do so because the request was made last week, too late for it to be added to the online ballot.
“From my understanding, and hearsay, Computer Services did not receive the information in time to put it on the ballot,” TSG President Kylie Paterson, a senior political science and African-American studies major. said. “Putting things on the ballot, for [Computer Services] it seems, literally takes weeks.”
Saltry added that the Computer Services worker who designed the site was also away on vacation, another factor affecting the green fee’s absence on the ballot.
There’s a possibility that the Computer Services’ issue also affected voting for TSG senators on the ballot, but Saltry said everything in that regard will run as planned.
“The green fee is the only problem, but the [Senate vote] is happening,” Saltry said. “I am deeply disappointed because we were never told in the beginning of this process that students would have to vote on [the green fee].
“It was always ‘Just get 10 percent of the student body to sign in favor of it, bring it to the administration and present it.’ They didn’t even tell us to write up the proposal – we just did it,” Saltry added.
Saltry said the green fee met every administrative benchmark. SEA and Saltry got about 3,200 signatures for the fee, wrote a proposal and gave a thorough presentation to the University Fees Committee last month.
“When administrators said they didn’t know if 3,200 signatures were enough, we said ‘OK, we’re going to put it on the ballot,’” Saltry said. “It’s very frustrating, disheartening and discouraging.”
But not all students share this disappointment. President of Temple College Republicans and junior political science major Barry Scatton said the error is “the only thing keeping the process honest, which is a paradox because it hasn’t been an honest process at all.”
“Allowing the green fee to be voted on after it has already been presented to administrators is irrelevant,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Now we have a sticky situation on our hands since they have already allowed students to sign a petition. What happens when students who signed the petition also vote for the fee if it eventually makes it to the ballot? Will TSG and SEA count that participation twice and try to claim they have more support than they really do? I wouldn’t put it past them.”
Senior environmental studies and geography and urban studies major and SEA President Tangtrakul argued the opposite point.
“It sucks because this was our only opportunity to have a fair, open ballot options for students,” Tangtrakul said. “Since it ended up not being on the ballot, we have to wait until the next TSG elections … it put our campaign off for a year, it feels like.”
Tangtrakul said adding the green fee to the ballot was an option proponents had been considering. Saltry and SEA are working on other options in the meantime to keep the green fee campaign alive.
“As of now, we’re definitely going to see what else we can do,” Tangtrakul added, “and continue getting the word out.”
Josh Fernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.