Our Word: Poor judgment, rich friends?

By Gus Bode

Do they serve lobster at a barbecue?

Because something is starting to smell awfully fishy about Undergraduate Student Government President Demetrous White approving a whopping $22,160 for the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity’s “Spring Out” barbecue party this weekend.

This and a handful of other issues came to light Tuesday after student trustee candidate Dylan Burns came forward to the Daily Egyptian with evidence of these expenditures. We wrote the story on deadline because, just like we appreciated being more informed before we cast our votes, we felt obligated to inform the public as well.

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Before we learned of White’s questionable actions, we planned to endorse him for student trustee. White has shown plenty of dedication to his constituents. When he was first elected president last fall, he was at a Board of Trustees meeting eight hours later in Edwardsville.

And we thought he had the experience, too.

But White’s methodology in helping to hand out the more than $300,000 in a year’s Student Activity fees is blatantly irresponsible.

Financial committee chairman Stephon Albert justified what’s been approved by touting the great ideas that groups have brought forth this year.

“Is that a big price jump? Yeah,” Albert said. “Did people come up with great ideas this year? Yeah. Should I penalize them? � Maybe tell them they shouldn’t put on events for the school?”

No. But if an organization comes to you and says they need $20,000-plus for a barbecue, both he and White need to have enough sense to say, “I’m sorry, but this is just too much.”

Organizations such as the Student Programming Council and the International Student Council put on campus-wide events and thus have requested similar (albeit still smaller) amounts of money for various events.

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But when a group such as a fraternity throws a party, it’s a given that the event is only catering to a select population. Even if 500 people attend, more than $20 would have to account for each person.

This is a case of irresponsible spending. White has gleaned support based on the ideology that his goal is to be fair to the students. His champion cause has been to curtail the amount of fees students pay – and to be mindful of the money such fees have already raised.

But signing off on whatever is put before you without considering the ramifications is a far cry from fair. As president, this erred process should have struck him long ago.

It’s too late to fix this year’s lopsided budget. Let’s hope his successor does a better balancing act.

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