S.A. Senate: hospitality at its finest

When the Opinion Editor of The Oswegonian informed me I had to write an "In the Office" article, I was baffled. I have been the Advertising Manager of The Oswegonian for almost two years, and have never written a story. After many attempts to get out of writing the story, I realized my roughly 20 month streak of non-article writing had come to an end.

As I sat in 214 Mahar, I tossed around ideas as to what to write about while attending my first Senate meeting of 2011, which started roughly 10 minutes late. I stopped for a moment when I heard Senators speaking about the residence halls they represented. Some senators gave updates about their halls, some claimed they had not attended the residence hall meetings, and many did not attend the Senate meeting at all.

During the meeting, the President of Senate, Nathan Hemmes, asked if there were any organization members here to speak in regards to their budget request. I waited for other organization members to raise their hand and have their name put on the board because I knew the discussion I would have with the senators about The Oswegonian would be lengthy at best. I raised my hand, and stated I was representing The Oswegonian. I was then welcomed with a number of groans and unexcited glares from senators. The Oswegonian has written many stories about Senate in the past; needless to say, the relationship between the two could use a little work.

Various organization members spoke about why they needed additional funding. A couple of senators asked club representatives a few questions; however, many senators were texting, having side conversations or checking their Facebook. About 30 seconds before it was my turn to speak, I asked the Finance Director, Armando Franco, if I could look at The Oswegonian budget. He gave me the budget and I was thrown completely off guard. My reasoning for attending the meeting was to challenge the budget councils recommended budget for The Oswegonian. I was there to explain to Senate that The Oswegonian forgot to include one account in our budget submitted to Budget Council; I soon realized this would not be the topic of discussion. I would soon have to argue why cutting The Oswegonian publication account funding by $3,000, would result in lower income.

I sat there puzzled, wondering why I had not been informed of this recommended change by the Finance Committee. I know Budget Council sends out their budget recommendations via email, but I never received the Finance Committee’s recommended changes.

Then it was my turn to speak. Caught completely off-guard by this turn of events, I asked for justification for cutting our publication account. A couple senators had fair arguments, justifying why they believed our publication account should be cut; however, many of them did not understand why a cut in publication spending would result in less income.

I explained to them, more than once, that if you cut The Oswegonian’s publication account funds, The Oswegonian will have to distribute fewer papers, produce fewer issues, produce fewer pages per issue, or stop offering color pages. By lowering The Oswegonain’s offering, the rates in which they can charge for advertisements will have to be lowered. The Oswegonian is required to sell in advertising roughly 80% of all funding they receive from the Student Association. I told the Senators if they are going to cut The Oswegonian publication funding, they are going to have to cut our income line to compensate for the change. Many senators did not understand the correlation between lower product offering and lower revenue. Many senators would change the wording of their questions, but still ask me the same thing. Needless to say, my advice to those senators is to research common business concepts.

As an outsider of Senate, I have a couple of recommendations. Firstly, if you are a senator, show up. Your role as a senator is to represent the people that elected you, not skip the meetings. Secondly, if you are going to show up, come prepared and pay attention! Some of the senators that did show up stated that they did not have any updates on what the residence halls they were representing were doing because they did not go to their residence hall meeting. When you are representing a population, do so with dignity; log off of your Facebook account and refrain from texting for the duration of the meeting. In the real world, that is unacceptable, and college is preparing us for the real-world after all.

Thirdly, promote student involvement in Senate meetings by treating them with respect. This means that interrupting a student while they are talking, or laughing while they speak, is inappropriate. If you interrupt a co-worker in the real-world, or are disrespectful, you will be given a disciplinary warning at best. Fourth, refrain from using a phrase like "I feel this" because unless you have facts to back up what you think or feel, no one is going to listen to you. Know what you’re talking about, and speak about it with confidence and authority. Finally, speak professionally. This means not throwing around the "F-bomb" or saying "You’re on crack." Needles to say, all of these recommendations all have one common concept: professionalism.

In my four years at Oswego State, I have been able to learn and practice acting professionally; however, many students do not realize how important this is. In our current job market, or lack thereof, the skills you have in a certain field do not guarantee you find a career. Acting professionally could be the little difference between you and that other student who applies for a job. Don’t lose a job because the other student could refrain from interrupting someone when speaking. Now is the time to learn how to, and practice, acting professionally; once you’re out in the real-world, one mistake could be the difference between the job you want, and the job you get.

I left the meeting between 10:30-11:00 p.m. Perhaps I could have spent that time at home writing my first, and last, article in The Oswegonian; however, I would like to thank Senate for giving me a topic to write about that has a bit more flair.