Last Wednesday, Robert T. O’Brien resigned from his position as Chair of the Graduate and Professional Students’ Committee of Temple Student Government, citing major problems within the organization.
|The General Assembly is “insufficiently informed” of decisions made by the Executive Committee, thereby taking away from the democratic process of government.|
Final complaint made by Robert T. O’Brien
In a letter addressed to the Speaker of the General Assembly and Secretary of TSG O’Brien called the organization an oligarchy and listed several problems he experienced. No other representatives have come forward with these problems.
He added that he would still sit in as a student representative to make changes to the organization.
Student Body President T.J. Baker said that he and others in TSG met with O’Brien prior to his resignation in attempts to explain to him the situation and to try and persuade him from resigning.
O’Brien’s first complaint was that “the Student Body President had unrestrained power to make executive orders,” and because those orders did not have a time frame for submission to the GA for vetoing, TSG’s money could be wasted.
He mentioned this specifically regarding the $51,000 Baker had allotted for Homecoming 2001. Members of the Executive Board and Fitzsimmons said it was necessary to ensure money would be available for TSG events during Homecoming.
This became necessary, Baker said, because by the time the first GA meeting could be held, Homecoming was only two weeks away. He added that the late start came because of a lack of student representatives, but that this problem was being dealt with and improvement has occurred.
Baker said that students are students first, before they are part of any organizations, and this led to the problem of getting representatives. Letters had been sent out over the summer asking organizations to submit applications for student representatives, but response has been slow. He said he received two more applications this past week, well past the midpoint in the semester. Baker did note that the increase in on-campus housing had improved the situation from years previous.
O’Brien also complained about TSG breaking the Constitution and By-Laws, and constantly being told that it was “tradition.” This dealt largely with budget decisions and its presentation to GA on Oct. 22 and the appointment of committee heads.
When the budget was presented at that meeting, it lacked itemization for major portions of the $220,000 that TSG was given this year to spend. Whichever draft was presented at that meeting, it was ultimately passed, but some discontent did exist. Of those present, 13 either opposed it or abstained from the vote.
A different version was presented to the Executive Board on Oct 24, this one had been written up over the summer, but O’Brien questioned where the money was allotted and who had the authority to make that decision. Treasurer Andrea V. Ray told him that she and the president decided those numbers.
When Temple News requested the budget, the most recent version, which was broken down into categories for operating needs, was made available. That version ran well over the $220,000 that the organization has to spend, but the Treasurer said those were very rough numbers and that at the next GA meeting a new version was to be presented that would actually come under budget.
When the new budget is presented, Ray said it will show TSG spent less than the proposed $51,000 for Homecoming that O’Brien had questioned.
O’Brien said that obtaining numbers for this year have been “impossible to get from either the treasurer or Dean Fitzsimmons,” even though those numbers are publicly available to anyone.
The final version will not be available until next year, because as the semester continues, actual spending changes, Baker said.
Baker explained that lack of student representatives this year forced the General Assembly to stray from tradition in order to move legislation. He added, though, that decisions are only ever voted on when a quorum is present. That includes appointment of committee heads, which are voted on by the Executive Committee, something that O’Brien was on, but he never voted on appointments. He was told that special executive meetings take place, though, he said he had never been informed of any specifically.
O’Brien’s final complaint was that the General Assembly was “insufficiently informed” of decisions made by the Executive Committee, thereby taking away from the democratic process of government.
With his letter O’Brien said he hoped to inform the students and GA and continue as a representative to start change in TSG.