SGA Cabinet merges with TU Events

Eric Flores will now oversee the student-led organization.

TU’s Student Government Association has always been an organization run by the students. Even the name alludes to the strong effect of the student-run, student-vision aspect of the events put on by SGA. An aspect that, after this year, will cease to exist.

The events you see on the Tulsa SGA Instagram and the t-shirts you wear to rep Springfest are a result of the Cabinet branch of SGA. Cabinet includes community involvement, DEI, marketing and other internal groups that work directly with the students.

It was recently announced that Cabinet will merge with TU Events, a university-led team that plans smaller events for students year round, which is led by non-students.

The Cabinet branch of SA was originally a place for students to gain experience in leadership and teamwork, learn how to correspond with different companies to put on events and be an impressive line on students’ resumes. They were working to create events for students, by students. The ideas for events, prizes, t-shirt designs, photos of the events, social media content and every other meticulous detail of the SGA led events are chosen by the students. Cabinet has an advisor to help with more complicated things, but those advisors were also capable of stepping back and letting the students take charge, they were just there when needed so that the students could primarily be students. With the new merger into TU Events, there will be a strict hierarchy of activities assistants, directors, co-directors and graduate assistants leading up to a boss, Eric Flores, that oversees everything.

Without having attended a Cabinet meeting before, learned more about the structure of the branch or worked to lead an event with cabinet members to learn more about the working structure, TU Events has decided that it would be best for the two organizations to merge. This would disintegrate the “student-led” aspect of Cabinet that puts on popular events every year such as homecoming week, International Extravaganza and Springfest. Now all of these events, and Cabinet members themselves, will fall under TU Events. Instead of Cabinet members being led by their fellow elected students, they will be run by TU staff and the student government organization will feel more like a job than an organization run by students focused on doing good by the school.

Not all Cabinet members will get to experience the changes to the organization though, as the merger will severely cut the number of Cabinet members. Current members wanting to return next year will not be guaranteed a spot, they will have to go through an interview process with the head of TU Events and leader of this merger, Flores. Cabinet currently has 53 members spread throughout the different internal groups. The new structure next year will have 55 spots to fill using Cabinet members and TU Events workers, who have graduated and are doing this full-time as their profession. It is hard to understand how a college student with 15 credit hours and other extracurriculars will be asked to compete and work equally alongside someone who has a 9-5 time span to devote to these events.

The discourse pitting student versus TU employee also shows in the amount of time Flores is asking students to devote to the merged organization next year. Flores and his team plan to hold three events per week, while SGA generally only holds 20 a year in addition to the smaller events when budget allows. Instead of the usual SGA cabinet week that consists of a one-hour meeting and the occasional busier days during event weeks, students will be asked to work a minimum of 10 hours a week to ensure these three events are completed.

Three events per week seems to be an unnecessary and unfeasible task. More does not always equal better. Undoubtedly, the events will begin to feel repetitive and give little room for creativity as there will be no time to work on ideas for new events while hosting other events. With the fewer amount of events Cabinet traditionally does, student engagement officers already have a hard time getting enough volunteers. With three events per week, there is almost a guarantee TU Events will not be able to fill the positions needed and the events will flounder.

With all the changes, it seems as though business was at the forefront of the merger instead of putting the students first. Merger leadership should have learned more about how Cabinet runs and spoke with students in the current organization to get their advice on the best way to improve the two organizations. Having not done so, it seems as though the people leading this merge have no respect for the work students do.

The idea of Cabinet, and SGA as a whole, is to give students real-world experience in the industries they are interested in without having to job search or even leave campus. If TU employees are being integrated into this organization, graduates are leading the teams, and students have to fight for their spot, this organization is no longer an asset of the students.

Post Author: Callie Hummel