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StuCon needs to place higher scrutiny on bills

Nov. 15, 2005


At its meeting last week, Student Congress voted to reverse its earlier decision to give $1,300 to the Student Global AIDS Campaign. The money would have helped lower the cost of 2,600 AIDS awareness T-shirts to be worn Dec. 1 from $2.50 each to $2.

Student Body President Mark Laymon vetoed the allocation the weekend after it was originally passed, saying he thought Student Life Fund money should go to more than T-shirts that would only be worn for a day. Congress voted Thursday to uphold his veto 26-10, with four abstaining.

Ben Humeniuk | Lariat staff
That kind of reversal signals that something is broken in this process, and it's likely one of two things.

It might be that Congress needs to subject the allocation requests presented to it to more rigorous scrutiny. It's rarely, if ever, that an allocation doesn't pass.

While AIDS awareness is intensely important, Laymon made a good point that there are, perhaps, better uses for students' money.

It would have been appropriate for someone to raise that question earlier in the process, but on first and second readings, no one presented a single argument against the T-shirt bill.

The Student Life Fund is a limited resource, and Congress members need to be judicious in how it's used. It's nice to be the good guy and help people out, but not everything deserves a donation.

On the other hand, maybe Congress needs to step up and defend its allocations. If representatives really believed in the bill, as their initial passing of it would indicate, they should have the spine to overturn a veto for something they think is important.

While it was probably right for this bill to be nixed -- a 50-cent cost difference for T-shirts doesn't really justify $1,300 of student money -- Congress members need to be wary giving the executive branch more power than the judicial.

When Congress members vote for something and then, essentially, take it back, it sends a message of weakness. It says Congress will give anybody money for anything, so long as the student body president doesn't shoot down the request.

That's a shame, because students deserve more effort than that.