TSG committee change causes controversy

A change in structure for the sustainability committee has a former member upset.

Temple Student Government’s Nov. 15 senate meeting was accompanied by an announcement indicating that the organization’s Special Committee of Sustainability would be disbanded; then-Director of Sustainability Advising Kyle Goldstein announced his departure.

Roughly two months post-resignation, Goldstein contends that the committee’s eradication was evident of business turning personal.

“They just didn’t want me as a leader anymore,” Goldstein said in an e-mail. “It wasn’t the position. It was just me.”

Goldstein said he felt “left in the dust,” after Saltry let him know of the committee’s disbandment and when other TSG members began to ignore him.

Saltry said he initially created the position so Goldstein could work closely with Students for Environmental Action and champion its causes.

“I wanted Kyle to be my sustainability guide, my eyes and ears in the environmental community,” Saltry said. “Find[ing] initiatives that [SEA] wanted to do that needed administrative backing or programs.”

Saltry said he did not envision the sustainability committee pursuing its own initiatives and programs, as Goldstein’s did.

“TSG was coming up with ideas in addition to the ideas that SEA was coming up with,” Saltry said. “It was like TSG was taking credit for what [SEA] was doing.”

However, Goldstein said he was never told exactly what his position consisted of and never received any feedback on his performance within the committee. He said he went to meetings every week, reached out to other organizations and consistently came up with new ideas.

The disbandment, Goldstein said, was not correlated with the fact that the committee had not done enough.

“Being noticeably proactive within TSG takes time, and we had quite a lot we were working on,” Goldstein said. “Plus, TSG is notorious for not being productive anyway.”

Goldstein said he had worked closely with Amelia Garrett, the president of SEA, during his run as director.

Goldstein said that after the committee was disbanded, Garrett told him he had a bad track record and Saltry no longer wanted to work with him.

While Garrett declined to comment on the alleged conversation, she said there were “some personal conflicts,” between herself and Goldstein.

“Kyle was trying to take [the committee] a step further,” Garrett said, “which is great, but you have to make sure the organization you’re with is OK with that.”

Since the committee’s eradication, Senator for the College of Science and Technology Leslee Everett is now the senior adviser to the senate president for campus sustainability.

While there is no longer an official committee, Saltry said he assigned Everett to do what he had intended for Goldstein to do: observe, report and find out what SEA needs.

“We weren’t getting the type of work done that we needed to be done,” Saltry said, “and I thought it was better to just change forces entirely.”

Everett, who previously worked with Goldstein in the sustainability committee, said in an e-mail that Goldstein’s leadership skills were strong but that the committee hadn’t accomplished anything except hosting a table at Sustainability Week.

“There was nothing that we could say that was actually materialistically accomplished,” Everett said. “We were only two people, but we should have showed something for our efforts.”

Although Goldstein said he believes TSG is not committed to sustainability, Saltry said the organization is still mindful of the cause.

“Have we changed the world? No,” Saltry said. “But I think we’ve raised the consciousness [of a sustainable community.]”

Saltry said he created the director of sustainability advising position after he was named senate president last year. He said he no longer had the time he felt was necessary to dedicate to sustainability causes, such as last year’s proposed green fee.

TSG and SEA spent months working on the green fee, a $5-per-semester fee for full-time students that would go toward making Main Campus greener and more sustainable.

While the green fee petition had 3,294 signatures on it, the University Fees Committee denied the proposal last April.

Goldstein said his committee was “among the most proactive” of any committee in TSG. He said during senate meetings, other committee chairs would give brief reports or report nothing at all.

However, Saltry said other committees are working on a lot of “behind the scenes stuff,” such as fixing the problem with lost Owl Cards, implementing temporary IDs for Diamond Dollars and Meal Plan packages, as well as getting vending machines in the TECH Center and Samuel L. Paley Library.

Goldstein said students should be aware of TSG’s operations, adding that students’ tuitions are funding the organization.

“Just like citizens pay taxes, students pay tuition and fees, and that money is paying for TSG’s $60,000 dollar budget,” Goldstein said, “and for their executive board members to have free or reduced tuition.”

“I think it’s important for students to know this is how their student government operates,” Goldstein said. “They strive to form a decent relationship with the 40,000 students at our university, and they failed to do so with just one, who happened to be a member of their own organization.”

Cary Carr can be reached at cary.carr@temple.edu.

6 Comments

  1. I’m not particularly surprised here. As a recent graduate, my own experience with TSG is similar to Mr. Goldstein’s. Here is an organization that is evenly divided between people who need to build their resumes and people who enjoy certain perks that come along with positions in exchange for being the administrations “voice” in the student body. I always felt it was blatantly obvious the issues that TSG should take up: advising, rising tuition costs, and an increasingly poor recruitment of instructors.

    Instead, TSG has decided that wireless printing in the TECH Center and vending machines in the library, are more important.

    Thank you President Castillo and Senate President Saltry for once again showing how ineffective and ultimately worthless student leaders often are when it comes to taking up issues that actually concern students.

  2. That’s an interesting read of the situation TempleAlumni. You see, as a current undergrad, I read this article and thought “wow, I guess the Temple News is okay with publishing a story about someone’s hurt feelings.” Apparently, this is what counts as good journalism. Virtually no coverage of deliberations about new community relations/campus safety policies regarding parties (especially when Campus Safety invites the LCB and L&I onto campus to help break up parties and kick students out of their homes), barely a mention of TSG’s efforts to lead the four state-related universities for a series of lobbying events in the state capital aimed at keeping state money flowing to Temple and tuition low(ish) for every student and almost no coverage or curiosity about why its okay to spend over $2billion on building upgrades and only hire 10 advisors over 2 years.

    Thank you, TempleAlumni for all that you have done on behalf of students. I’m sure the issues look pretty easy to deal with from the couch and I’m positive that instead of your anonymous criticism, Castillo and Saltry and the others in TSG could have used your help.

  3. I was helping them at one time TempleUnderGrad, which allows me to have more of an insight than you give me credit for. I don’t deny this is a story about hurt feelings though, however it still points out what is obvious about TSG. It is ineffective, out of touch, and most importantly, not a voice for students. Its great that TSG jumps on lobbying Harrisburg now, despite the fact that these issues have been around for over half a decade, and despite the fact that a former TSG President once took credit for keeping tuition increases to a “slight” increase of only 2.9% (while President Hart received a very large increase in her salary). Who organized these trips anyways? If it was TSG, I can’t imagine that they came up with that idea on their own. They were probably encouraged by student activities, an office that despite what there name says, has been relatively unsuccessful in connecting with most Temple students.

    I’d recommend going to student groups who have actually realized these problems years ago and have attempted to fix them, specifically the multicultural groups who find themselves kept out of budgetary talks. The problem with that move is they also have realized the uses (or lack there of) of TSG, and have decided to go out on their own and accomplish what they can.

    For me though, it is very easy for me to post anonymously from my couch TempleUnderGrad, so I’m happy to continue that.

  4. What I don’t get is how this journalist avoids asking the most important question…what happened to Wednesday Night Blunt Club? I mean, one night I was chillin with a bunch of people at the Big Owl listening to the Dead, and then the next minute, I was alone smoking a blunt when the old dude in the Temple Police golf cart came cruising by and asked me what I was doing.

    Where did the blunt club go? Where!? Did it move to the bell tower where those death metal kids hang out? One time I recevied a hug from a Zombie at the bell tower. It was pretty chill so I gave him a fist pump and a toke of my J, but I didn’t find out where the Blunt Club moved to.

    Presidents Castillo and Saltry, I expect you guys, as my Elected Representatives in the Student Government, to tackle this issue pronto Tonto.

  5. I don’t understand how people can just openly criticize like this? The way this article is written, coupled with certain comments made, basically show the ignorance of critics.

    Let’s think realistically for a second…You criticize an organization for not doing enough? For not “solving” rising tuition or the recruitment of poor instructors? You speak as if TSG can cut tuition in half or hire the greatest professors with a wave of the hand. That’s a ridiculous, unrealistic state of mind. Bringing wireless printing and encouraging students to attend the rally at Harrisburg are small steps to the overall betterment of Temple’s community.

    The members of TSG are just undergraduate students. As far as I’m concerned you’re all doing your best and a great job.

  6. Dear lonely stoner, I graduated from Temple in 2009. My freshman year, 2005, myself and my crew started Wednesday Night Blunt club. It was always at ten thirty on Wednesday night at Alumni Circle. The circle right on the corner of founders garden, the little court yard that is dropped down a few feet from street level right at the end of the shops on Liacorous walk. It was at the semi circle where you can stand in the middle of it and the sound echos around your head. We started by smoking cigars along with bud until we realized that the Temple cops didn’t mind us smoking there. In fact my best friend at the time went up to the old cop in the golf cart, (glad to hear he’s still there) and asked him what he thought about WNBC; he told us that he’d rather us be chilling there smoking than at a party at a frat house getting drunk and rowdy. It’s nice to hear that the tradition lasted that long, although it is a shame it’s not as popular as it used to be. I remember one night there was over 80 people crowded around the little circle passing around L’s. That was a great time. Too old for it now; those were some of the best times of my life. Savor it.

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