Here’s How: Transparency and Accountability

Since last week, I’ve been spending a lot of time talking about some of my ideas when it comes to the role of Vice-President of SGA at Eastern Nazarene College. More specifically, I’ve shared my hopes for how student government can be a more useful tool for members of ENC’s community in our classrooms, workplaces, and neighborhood. To me, these ideas all answer this question: “Why am I running for Vice-President?”

But there’s another question, and it may be just as important: “How would I, if elected, go about keeping these promises and representing ENC students well as an SGA executive?” My hope is that I can answer that question in two parts: the post you’re reading right now, and a piece that I’ll be sending out tomorrow.

In this post, I want to focus on how I’ll work to bring as much transparency and accountability as possible to the office of SGA Vice-President, and how I understand those two things as only being possible when multiple parts of our student government all cooperate and collaborate.

When it comes to the SGA budget, and the ways in which students’ money is being spent on their behalf, there is rarely such a thing as too much transparency. Right now, the SGA Vice-President is required to meet regularly with ENC’s Student Development Office to make sure that the student government’s funds are being spent properly. However, I believe that this responsibility can be expanded to ensure that even more members of our campus community can see the way that SGA’s money is being spent. If we can increase our commitment to transparency, then students will be better equipped to hold our student government accountable.

So, in addition to reporting regularly to the Student Development Office, I want to provide SGA’s Accountability Review Board, General SGA, and the rest of the student body with as much information as possible about the budget. Students at ENC shouldn’t even have to ask about how their money is being spent; basic details about the SGA budget should be readily available to anyone who’s interested.

In order to promote an environment that values transparency and accountablity in this way, we need more than just a Vice-President who cares about these issues; we need an entire team.

We need a Director of Publicity who cares about keeping students informed when it comes to how their money is being spent; I’d love to have the chance to work with the next person who fills this role to develop resources that can help our campus community better understand the budget process and how funds are being used.

We need an Administrative Assistant and a Director of Spiritual Life who both care about making sure that clubs and ministries are spending their money in the best ways possible; if elected Vice-President, I’d meet regularly with those two leaders to make sure that clubs and ministries are getting the funding support that they need and treating those funds responsibly.

We need a Director of Social Life and a Director of Recreational Life who both care about using the money allocated for SGA-sponsored events wisely; as with the Administrative Assistant and Director of Spiritual Life, I’d love to also meet regularly with these two leaders to make sure that this is happening.

Finally, we also need to make sure that the student leaders serving on our class councils are modeling the best practices in transparency and accountability. In keeping with what is required of the SGA Vice-President, I would meet regularly with the class council vice-presidents to make sure that our student government is being open and trustworthy across the board.

Talking about the need for more transparency and accountability in ENC’s student government isn’t just a “campaign promise” for me; I’ve been working on this issue ever since I was the president of the freshman class council. In fact, the first proposal that I ever submitted to General SGA was designed to reform our Accountability Review Board and make it even stronger. I’ll always be grateful to Josh Lojzim, Drew Lester, Emily Ludwig, Keri Lewis, and others for working on writing that proposal with me. However, when it comes to making ENC’s student government as open and accessible as possible, we’re far from finished.

If you’re someone who cares about this issue, feel free to connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Medium. I’m also a big fan of coffee; we could hang out in Hebrews! I want to hear what you have to say about how the next SGA Vice-President can make our student government as accountable and transparent as possible.