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BSG meeting addresses faltering relationship with students

Reporting by Emily Elicker and Mark Di Stefano

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 13:02

A larger-than-usual crowd showed up to Wednesday night's Brockport Student Government (BSG) committee meeting, where the organization addressed fighting for Brock-the-Port, its relationship with its students and increased media attention.

Vice President and Chairman of the Board Brian Witmer started the meeting off by saying he was "worried" there were so many people and that he worried they had missed something in emails to the clubs. BSG meetings typically don't draw in many students.

Brock-the-Port

"I don't want to say we were tricked and lied to. But we were tricked and lied to," BSG President Sam Wheeler said about the canceling of Brock-the-Port in reference to the administration.

BSG started a petition last week to bring back the end-of-the-year bash after Dave Mihalyov, the spokesman for the college, told The Stylus Dec. 4 administration had informed student government weeks before that the event would not be held this year. BSG declined to comment on that story at the time.

"Can you imagine [President John] Halstead and Katy [Wilson] sitting down and taking responsibility," Wheeler asked the crowd.

Wheeler said at the meeting the organization took legal action against the administration, but its lawyer advised that the case would be bogged down until the students graduated and the money would simply sit in the account.

"That's why we're having the April event, which is not yet named," Wheeler said.

A large sign went up outside the BSG offices advertising to "Save Brock-the-Port."

Relationship between students and BSG

The board spent part of the meeting discussing the relationship BSG has with its students. Student Theresa Matos said at the meeting there's a "great disconnect" and students do not trust BSG.

"You're right," service representative David Babb said. "Our credibility is shot in certain areas."

Some members believed BSG wasn't doing its job in listening and helping the students.

"As elected representatives, how do we know what students want if we don't go out there?" an animated Babb asked his board.

Babb has been a mainstay on the board for a few semesters. He urged the board to stop sitting in the BSG offices and only going to the BSG meetings. He said it's something he's been saying is a problem for weeks now.

"We shouldn't be combative, we should be receptive," Babb said.

Wheeler disagreed, saying BSG puts out surveys that "students choose to ignore."

Grace Kincella, BSG chief of staff, said one problem is BSG is not allowed to go door to door in the dorms and ask "what can we do for you?"

"Our trust in students has been lost," she said.

At one point in the meeting a student stood up and said "I feel like you're overpaid people to sit on a board."

Media attention

Four media outlets have reported on the ongoing issues between The Stylus and BSG, which escalated two weeks ago. Poynter and the Student Press Law Center quickly made it a national story.

BSG made headlines again today when the weekly Stylus was released in print.

"I think most people would agree we have been in The Stylus a lot as of late," Treasurer Sandy Evans said.

Wheeler said: "We have been in The Stylus excessively. And that's all I'll say about that."

Matos added that she believed The Stylus was a tabloid such as TMZ.

In the week's edition, an article ran on page 1 about a threat from an anonymous account that impersonates Witmer's dog, Reptar.

"I am not Reptar," Witmer said when the room went quiet.

The Stylus also ran a column asking "What are we spending our money on?"

The column asked students to start asking where all their money is going and what it's actually being spent on. Wheeler and Kincella said BSG will be making a pie chart of how the budget is spent and how the programming budget is spent.

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