McCormack: Fuerst’s Accusations Unfounded

On behalf of Student Government Association President Ram Parimi and myself, SGA Vice President, we have no problem with criticism. People will disagree, and they have the right to voice their opinion. I do, however, have a problem with criticism that is grounded in inaccurate research. In Kevin Fuerst’s article entitled, “SGA Poorly Represents Student Body,” in the February 11, 2005 issue of The Maroon-News, he made some valid points, but also made several erroneous assumptions. Please allow me to elaborate:Fuerst mentions Parimi’s plans for covered cruiser stops and the proposed cost of each stop being $10,000 – $15,000. Parimi does believe that “although the price sounds costly, students feel that the covered cruiser stops are a necessity.” In a November 19, 2004 article, Parimi goes on, according to Fuerst, “to quote a single student who favors convenience at any cost.” Fuerst then responded to Parimi’s statements by asserting, “I’m glad that every student was asked for their opinion how $60,000 of their tuition would be spent. Is there really nothing else our SGA could be doing with the $60,000 it will spend on covered cruiser stops? Think of how much money each SGA recognized group could receive if that enormous sum of money went to groups instead of making sure drunken students were warm and toasty – I know groups I belong to would love even a meager $100 increase in their budgets.”The most problematic assumption that he made was that the $60,000 was coming out of the Budget Allocations Committee (BAC) or another student-accessible fund. This is simply NOT true. First of all, the $60,000 Fuerst mentions is actually $40,000-$60,000 (“cost of each stop – $10,000-$15,000”), assuming that four covered cruiser stops are eventually built. Secondly, that money will be allocated over a period of years. Thirdly, and most importantly, the $60,000 is NOT accessible to students. It comes out of the University’s planning budget. No student group would ever have access to this money. If Fuerst had based his argument on the need for residential improvements, that would have been a legitimate concern, but the example used in his commentary was not. He could have also made the argument that the SGA should have investigated the possibility of increasing the BAC budget by $60,000 instead, which would then affect the students. However, this has already been done. The percentage of every student’s tuition that goes into the BAC is fixed at a certain rate to account for inflation and increases incrementally every year.Furthermore, the tone Fuerst took in his article could have been more tempered, especially since he made a fundamental mistake in reaching a conclusion. To say that Parimi quoted a “single student” gives the impression that the single student was one of the few students to support covered cruiser stops, which is also very inaccurate. Fuerst went on to say sarcastically that he was ” … glad that every student was asked for their opinion.” Parimi and I went door-to-door and met with roughly 1,500 students during our campaign last year. The idea for covered cruiser stops was proposed by a student during our door-to-door campaign and was widely regarded as a wonderful idea (I will make the point for him that we mainly targeted underclassmen in our door-to-door campaign and thus they had less experience with the conditions of residential areas down the hill – that is, of course, if Fuerst had argued that the money should have gone into residential improvements, which he didn’t do). Regardless, I would say with a good amount of confidence that Fuerst’s position on covered cruiser stops is nowhere near a representation of the Colgate student body.However, there are some valid points he made – to an extent – regarding our decision to investigate the omission of Greek life from the Colgate Viewbook and the lack of representation of the LGBTQ Colgate students. Frankly, I think that the student body – as a whole – is more interested in the Greek acquisition, which affects Broad Street houses and non-Greek students as well, than whether or not LGBTQ students were included in the Viewbook, which in reality affects a much smaller population. The argument he should have made is that it is more important to promote tolerance than Greek-life on campus, not that we weren’t representing students. Admittedly, we were at fault for not investigating the lack of LGBTQ perspectives in the Colgate Viewbook, but we cannot be blamed for poorly representing the student body. However, more students are involved in Greek life at Colgate than they are involved in LGBTQ activities. I’m not saying that it is right, but I am saying that those are the circumstances at hand.In conclusion, next time that Fuerst decides to write a commentary – especially in such a tone, he should investigate the facts more carefully.