As many students are now aware, the new bronze SuperFrog statue that is located on the first floor of the BLUU has caused controversy among the student body. Not only is there concern about the process under which this statue was approved, but students are also alarmed by the fact that this statue cost over $50,000. Even if it is only approximately 7.3 percent of the entire SGA budget, $50,000 is still a large sum of money. In my opinion, whenever any group decides to spend large sums of money they should have gone through a process in which they chose the most effective and meaningful ways to spend those funds.
As I previously mentioned, it is unclear whether or not the SGA Cabinet actually went through a process in which they unanimously agreed that the statue was an appropriate way to spend $50,000. However, if they did actually complete this process I feel that it would have been very easy to develop various ways to spend the money that would have more impact than the statue does. With all of the issues that currently face students and the broader Fort Worth community, I feel that the $50,000 could have been used in more impactful and meaningful ways.
In regards to impact, the only indication of the statue having any type of meaningful impact came from Student Body President, Brent Folan, earlier this week when he said the following : “Current TCU students will love it. You know they’ll take photos with it… there were literally lines of people wanting to take photos with it.”
Not only does this statement imply that the purpose of the statue was to give students something that they could take photos with, but it implies that everyone that took photos with the statue did so because they liked the statue. Junior supply chain major Brett Battles disagrees with Folan: “I took a picture with the statue because I thought it was ridiculous, and I feel that more students are doing the same.”
Battles’ position shows that just because people may be taking pictures with the statue does not mean they necessarily enjoy the statue. Furthermore, if the statue was commissioned in order for students to take photos, I don’t feel like that was the best way to spend such a large amount of money.
One of the functions of the Student Government Association is to distribute funds to student organizations on campus. Any student organization can request funding from SGA, and the Finance Committee will review the request and either accept or deny the request. This year there were many organizations that were denied funding from SGA. The merit behind the denial of funds may be valid, but in a situation in which there is a $100,000 surplus of funds that need to be allocated, I feel that SGA had enough extra money to be able to provide more organizations with at least a portion of their requested funds.
Student organizations are avenues through which students express themselves and participate in events that are important to them. In terms of having a strong impact on campus, I feel that contributing at least a portion of the $50,000 to make sure that more organizations on campus could receive funding from SGA this year would have been more meaningful than providing the campus with a bronze Superfrog statue.
Even if the money used for the statue was not used to provide student organizations with more funding, I still feel like SGA could have used the money for more meaningful things. I also feel that it is not difficult to think of different things that $50,000 could have been used for that are more important than a bronze statue with which people can take photos. Below is a brief list of possible things that the money could have been used for. This list took me approximately 1 minute to develop.
· Offer a one-time scholarship that is sponsored by SGA: With many students struggling to keep up with tuition payments or pay for books, SGA could have offered a few one-time scholarships (maybe $500 each) that students could apply for in order to help pay for school.
· Have another concert: TCU concerts are usually a success. Since the fall concert was paid for by another source, the money that was then left over from the fall concert could have been used to fund a concert in the spring that students could also enjoy.
· Donate a portion of the money to a cause/charity: One option could have been to identify a cause or a charity that is important to students on campus, and donate a portion of the residual funds (maybe $5,000) to that cause or charity.
· Save the money for the future: There is nothing wrong with having extra money in order to make sure that there is flexibility in the future.
I am in no way saying that the ideas that were presented above would have been the “right” way to spend the money. However, I am showing that with a moderate amount of brainstorming the SGA cabinet could have come up with various ways to better allocate the residual funds. As our student government, SGA is open to listening to the concerns of students. If anyone is concerned about this statue (the process under which it was developed, how much it cost etc.) then I encourage you to come to the SGA House Meeting this upcoming Tuesday, Oct. 30th at 5:00 PM in the BLUU Chambers.
Miles Davison is a junior sociology major from St. Paul, MN.