By The Editorial Board
It is our right as students to establish and elect a democratic student government. However, for the second year in a row, Cleveland State University’s Student Government Association (SGA) has hijacked that process.
SGA limited the application opportunities solely to students they already knew and “saw fit” for the open treasurer position — giving one of the highest roles of student representation and influence, $8,000 in scholarships and authority over student organization funding to a hand-picked candidate —rather than allowing the entire student body to apply, as their constitution requires.
As our staff has reported in the past, this is not the first time SGA has disenfranchised their constituency. Continuous corruption in the appointment process eliminates democracy in student government.
We have worked to follow up on these violations of students’ rights over the last year, and while we continue to report our findings in comparison to the SGA executive board’s misrepresentation of their governing documents, it is difficult to constantly explain their claims are false.
“If you look at the constitution under the executive board’s powers, you can directly reference the president’s powers,” Omar Wahdan, SGA’s president, said when a member of our staff asked if anything would be done to correct the improper appointment of Danielle Mihalcea as SGA treasurer. “It says the president has the right to establish and maintain operating procedures for the executive board, so not only did I establish the procedure, but I also maintained the procedure in some way.”
Put simply, the constitution has a specific process for filling empty positions, and Wahdan did not follow that process — a violation of their constitution that we exposed in our last issue. While he does have the power to establish and maintain operating procedures, that power does not override procedures that are already in place in the organization’s governing documents. Much like the United States government, the president must operate within a certain set of guidelines. Otherwise, there would be no point in having a constitution at all.
SGA’s violations of their constitution make a joke of the annual election process. Not only does it steal the right of participation that we, as a student body, are promised in the university’s Student Code of Conduct, but it violates that code every time it happens. All student organizations are required to follow their constitution.
If SGA won’t correct their mistakes, the university should. We have a judicial process for a reason. The Student Code of Conduct allows for the vice president for student affairs or a designee to file a written charge on behalf of the university community.
We spelled everything out for Cleveland State’s community, and the administration knows this violation has occurred. While it’s nice that President Harlan Sands has offered to reach out to apologize to our contributor, Nathan Parin, there are other infringements that have gone unchecked for far too long. We cannot ignore that no one is acting on such a significant attack on the student body’s recognized rights.