I strongly condemn the actions of the four Student Government officials on the local fee committee who recently struck down a possible increase of much-needed funding for the Counseling & Wellness Center, located at 3190 Radio Road.
The question at hand was whether to raise student fees by 71.4 cents per credit hour so the CWC could pay the 12 counselors it plans to hire over the next four years. The answer from SG was an incomprehensible no.
I mean, making sure our students have mental health counselors to go to if they need help? Who on Earth would do that?
I guess not SG.
Look, I take 12 credit hours to strike a good balance with my minimum wage jobs. That means each semester, this fee increase would have resulted in me paying an additional $8.57 — HOLD UP, HOW DARE I PAY AN EXTRA EIGHT DOLLARS PER SEMESTER TO MAKE SURE MY FRIENDS HAVE FREE, ACCESSIBLE MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING.
Oops. Sorry about that.
It’s not like I could make up the difference by working one extra hour.
It’s not like I could save $8 this semester by using my Gator Greenbacks coupon book.
It’s not like if I asked a friend for $8, they would help me out, no questions asked.
It’s not like I’m one of the privileged few who has found more than $8 on the ground.
Maybe I actually want my student fees to go up by $8 so my friends can get the help they need.
Maybe the current SG administration’s addiction to the mantra of not raising student fees will come around to hurt the students they are supposed to represent.
Maybe we could have voted for the fee increase and reduced the CWC’s overhead payment.
Maybe the current SG administration should have asked for our opinions before purporting to act on our behalf.
Maybe every additional day the CWC doesn’t have permanent funding for new counselors is another day a student who needs help doesn’t get it.
Maybe it seems as if SG acts as if every Gator counts, unless you have to spend an extra $8 per semester.
Maybe it is that when it came down to lives versus dollars, SG pointed toward their pocketbooks.
But, hey, at least we have that music festival next semester, right?
Today, I’m ashamed to be a part of SG. We need to do better.
If you feel strongly about this, come down to the Senate meeting Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Reitz Union Chambers and speak during public debate. Contact me ahead of time at [email protected] so I can brief you on how it works and make sure you get the maximum time possible to share your story.
Zachariah Chou is the SG senator (Inspire Party) for the Murphree Area and Minority Party Leader.
Editor’s note: Zachariah Chou formerly worked as a paid photographer for the Alligator.