Letter to the Editor 12.16.13

Murray State Students,

You’re correct in that you never received an email from SGA regarding ticket prices going up. As far as getting information out there about parking rules, it’s all on the Murray State parking website: http://www.murraystate.edu/HeaderMenu/Offices/PublicSafetyAndEmergencyManagement/ParkingManagement.aspx, also the QR Code on your parking tag actually takes you to the parking regulation website. I have also been told by our Judicial Board Chairman that in the past the board has requested to the Opinion Editor of The Murray State News, to publish a weekly parking tip; however, the former editor didn’t see fit to do so. The information throughout the budget process last year was public and the President’s Office held several public discussions on the matter; the full list was even posted on the Murray State website and The Murray State News wrote an article about it, breaking down each recommendation, on March 8, 2013: http://thenews.org/2013/03/08/13239/. So, as for getting the info out there, we thought with The News posting it, and the University posting it, it would not be beneficial for us to repost the same exact information. Clearly we were wrong in that aspect, and will be working to remedy that in the near future.

Through the ticket appeal process, the Judicial Board has noticed various issues with parking which are being addressed, such as more visible signs across campus, and they even lobbied the Parking Office and Facilities Management to create loading zones by Clark Residential College, so that students would stop getting tickets for parking on the sidewalk in front of Clark and it also will help create a safer environment for students crossing the street from Clark to the IM field.

As a student who is involved in numerous organizations on campus, I have learned many leadership skills as well as professional development skills to help me in my career. You see, I don’t join organizations as a resume booster. I join an organization because I believe in what the organization stands for and I want to help further that mission. Yes, I’m in a Greek organization but I’m also an Ag Ambassador, member of the Ag Leadership Council, the National FFA Organization, a 4-H Volunteer and for the past 6 years, a member of SGA. I am a member of those organizations because I believe in their purposes and what they stand for. Just because a portion of the Ag Ambassadors are also members of the Ag Leadership Council, that doesn’t mean that the Ag ambassadors are trying to take over and “control” the Ag Leadership Council, it just means they have similar missions and students wish to be a part of both organizations to help out other students. My fraternity’s purpose starts with, “To make better men, and through them a broader and better agriculture,” and the purpose of SGA is, “to promote the welfare, growth, and development of student life,” so I feel it’s obvious why I joined both organizations, it’s not that my fraternity is trying to control anyone or anything, it’s that both organizations believe in bettering students and helping them through college. This is why you see so many students in SGA that are in a Greek organization, because many Greek organizations are founded on values that line up with what SGA stands for and those students want to continue living their personal values and bettering life on campus for other students.

Within the Student Senate, the policy side of SGA, there are numerous members of Greek letter organizations (59 percent) and there are also members within SGA that are of different ethnic backgrounds, different sexual orientations, members of the armed forces, freshmen all the way to grad students, but what really matters isn’t that some of our members are members of a Greek organization or that we are members of a certain political party, or even different skin colors, what matters is we are ALL STUDENTS and we represent the students at Murray State. I’m not here to argue or fight with students, I’m here to represent you and help you get the most out of your college education; however the problem is that if you don’t let us know how to help you, or what we are doing wrong, we can’t help. So I ask that instead of getting mad and posting on social media, or in the newspaper, email me and let me know how we can better serve you.

There were 863 parking appeals for the fall 2013 semester. Of those, 644 were denied, 177 were reduced and 42 were approved. The Judicial board, a part of the Student Government Association, hears the appeals of parking tickets for faculty, staff and students. This board is composed of students who were interviewed by the Student Senate and then recommended to University Interim President Dr. Miller, for approval. Once Dr. Miller has officially appointed the students, they can begin the work of reviewing parking appeals, and various other judiciary hearings, ranging from grade or University policy issues on behalf of students. The Judicial Board members must pass a test on the parking regulations for the University and take a tour of the campus to view any problem areas that might arise.

When reviewing the tickets, the Judicial Board does not see student names associated with the tickets, unless the student is appealing the ticket in person, then it’s obviously hard to conceal their identity. Should members of the Judicial Board have any outside knowledge of the situation in question, they announce that they have a conflict and excuse their selves from that appeal, so that every decision is made with an unbiased board. All students are represented equally and fairly. At random times throughout the semester, the Judicial Board does what is called a Double Blind Test. For this test, the members are presented with paper versions of the tickets and mark in a column whether the ticket should be appealed, reduced or denied. Following that, the advisers and chair compare the answers, just to make sure that the board is still being consistent and fair across the pool of appeals.

Something that really upset me yesterday, on Facebook, a student posted that she had a complaint but was too afraid tell anyone because she was afraid of retaliation or that she wouldn’t graduate; that’s what SGA is here for. If you have issues and are looking for a way to voice them contact us, we aren’t afraid to voice your concerns but we have to know them so we can. If you just post on social media and expect someone in SGA to see it, you most likely will not get your problem solved.

Mr. Griggs, I want to thank you for standing up for what you believe, and voicing your opinion, however, next time do some research and look at articles written by your former coworkers. You say that you didn’t know about the rules, but let me ask you this, if you don’t know about a local, state or even federal law, but still commit the crime, is it still illegal? We have been working on a way to get the info out to students via educational sessions such as in freshman orientation, but the problem is that doesn’t hit everyone, and at the end of the day not all students read mass emails. So how do you suggest we get that info out to students? Email me and let me know.

Just a point of clarification, we do already have “Greek Government Associations,” that have nothing to do with the SGA, and they are called the Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council, which govern the fraternities and sororities here at Murray State. I implore you, next time you are trying to get students stirred up, please look at the facts.

I strongly encourage anyone if you feel you aren’t being represented, email me at jjohnson6@murraystate.edu or our Judicial Board Chairman, Grant Grissom at mgrissom@murraystate.edu, and let’s talk about how we can better represent you. The Student Senate meets weekly on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. in the Barkley Room of the Curris Center, and the meetings are open to the public. We also have an anonymous grievance box on our website, http://www.murraystate.edu/Campus/orgsRecreation/studentOrganizations/sga/sgaservices/sgacomplaints.aspx, that allows anyone to report an issue and we will follow up.

I hope everyone has a great break, and I’ll see you in January.

Submitted by Jeremiah Johnson, student regent and Student Government Association president.