A brief history of SGA v. The Scribe

April 4, 2011

Avalon Manly

A few years ago, in a time when I was little more than a worker bee for The Scribe, I had some sort of incredible lapse of reason that caused me to run for student body president. Or, more accurately, student body tri-executive (a type of ticket that has since been abolished wherein three students run for, essentially, co-president spots).

I’m not sure why I did it, apart from the fact that I was running with some pretty cool people for a position that might afford me the ability to make a difference on campus. I had no idea regarding anything about politics, or the bureaucracy of student government. I just knew that things weren’t as good as they could have been, and I thought I had the moxie and drive to try to fix some things.

My running-mates and I lost the election – not by much, but we still lost. I was happy about that pretty quickly, as I realized that I could thrive as a journalist, and that the printed word was where my moxie belonged.

The winning ticket boasted David Williams for Student Body President and Andy Addare (who I thought was imaginary for about five months into the year, as he was never around) for his VP. Their year in charge, from the fall of 2008 to the spring of 2009, is a reign that shall live in infamy.

Now, UCCS students are notorious for not actually voting during student elections, but chances are if you were on campus that year, and even if you weren’t one of the 300 or so students that voted, you heard about Williams and his spectacular menagerie of failure.

(This being an editorial, it’s important at this point to note that this is all my opinion, and does not necessarily represent the feelings of The Scribe or any Scribe employees.)

Williams managed to spend the first semester or so of his regime being a pretty abhorrent person, but not doing anything overtly outrageous. Then he vetoed funding for a Spectrum event, which was actually okay and fell within his jurisdiction as student body president (the funding was later passed anyway, so it came out all right in the end). Instead of just letting it ride as part of his duties, though, Williams chose to send out a mass email explaining how much he disagrees with homosexuality.

We, at a newspaper that was totally not The Scribe, used to make jokes about Williams holding the giant closet door shut on Coming Out Day.

Anyway, a hullaballoo ensued that included Williams getting impeached, Williams hiring a team of lawyers to defend his position, and a great rejoicing at the end of the school year when none of us had to deal with “Douchebag” Dave any longer.

The Scribe struggled throughout that year to report accurately on everything that went on, not only because extracting the necessary information from Williams and his administration was like herding rabid cats, but also because The Scribe is awarded the majority of its funding by SGA. Reporting on the screw-ups of the people that sign your checks is a conflict of interest worthy of the ages.

The next year (2009-2010) brought UCCS its first openly gay student body president and vice president, Daniel Garcia and James Burge, respectively, who, while being very kind and capable individuals, struggled to make a viable impact as the heads of Student Government. I remember little about their time leading SGA apart from the war that broke out between their administration and The Scribe. Historically, the organizations have never really gotten along – the media and politicians never do, at any level – but the levee broke between Garcia, Burge and the former editor-in-chief, and no one was given the time, space or respect to do their jobs right. The Scribe had to fight tooth and nail for every penny it needed, and SGA had to vouchsafe for its members against bad press. When May 31 rolled around and SGA and The Scribe were both under new management, the relief was almost palpable.

Given the less-than-savory history shared between The Scribe and SGA, I faced my term as editor-in-chief with considerable trepidation. I knew next to nothing about the incoming student body President, Kristina Achey, except that she had won the election by a margin of exactly four votes.

Achey called me in June, shortly after I had assumed this position, and requested that we meet. I was prepared for a crash of hostilities bred from the previous year, and tried to steel myself to defend my paper and my staff from the onslaught.

I was thrown off balance when Achey told me that she’d warned the members of SGA that anything negative appearing in The Scribe about them or their actions was their fault, and she wouldn’t go to bat for them against the newspaper. I assured her in turn that everything we reported would be factual and fair. Thus was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

SGA and The Scribe have enjoyed a sort of Indian summer this school year, thanks in large part to Achey’s integrity in conduct and management. Unfortunately, the financial conflict of interest is still present in spades, as The Scribe still approaches SGA each spring for funds, but Achey’s administration has been working with the paper to implement a system that frees The Scribe from that yoke.

I’m not sure what next year will bring for either the paper or SGA, but I hope that you, the students who make all this happen, pay attention and vote next week, because any success or failure of the representatives that you elect is on your shoulders.