Discourse: Should GPA requirements be stricter for UNF Student Government?

Spinnaker

UNF Student Government recently debated the strictness of GPA requirements for its leaders. Below, two writers debate SG’s decision.

 

The Student Government Senate should not have lowered GPA requirements

 

 

By: Roderick Williams, Guest Columnist

 

During the Jan. 30 Student Government Senate meeting, the senators responded absurdly to the proposal to increase the grade point average requirement for SG members. GPA represents a student’s quality of performance and determines whether or not a student qualifies for certain academic honors and programs.

 

The Senate lowered the GPA requirement to a 2.0, indirectly encouraging mediocre performance. Students who cannot lead academically should not be leaders in SG.

 

The Senate’s motives are unclear. Although it explained why the requirement shouldn’t be raised, it did not clarify why it should be lowered.

 

Nevertheless, you cannot improve anything by lowering standards. This tactic is ridiculous and mindless. It will lower the prestige of the organization — something they should strive to preserve.

 

If our representatives are gaining a basic concept of knowledge as indicated by their GPA, how can we have confidence in their ability to conceptually represent on our behalf?

 

Theoretically, this makes no sense. These are the same folks who impose regulations and oversee budgets. We must not be hypercritical, but to some point, we must critically question our officials. That’s simply due diligence.

 

We must understand precisely what SG is. It’s an extracurricular activity — something outside of the normal curriculum. The inability to excel within the normal curriculum should prohibit you from doing something extra. You should have a grip on the mandatory before you participate in something voluntary.

 

I am not signifying that good academic performance is a necessity to lead well, but I am signifying that such performance brings a positive and tolerable perception. For instance, since President Bill Clinton, all presidential successors hold some form of higher education, including the current nominees for the Republican Party.

 

Lowering the GPA requirement to 2.0 opens the possibility for students to serve in SG while on the brink of falling into bad standing with the university. But a majority of senators feel this is OK by accommodating students with lackluster performance. I suspect senators passed this legislation primarily to benefit themselves — SG members protecting other SG members from being removed from office.

 

Chairman Joel Versace and Senate President Carlo Fassi are sadly mistaken in their assertions. I agree with the chairman that this is not an honors club or scholarly organization. That’s exactly why fellow advocates and I are not suggesting a 3.4 GPA requirement, which is what the university classifies as “honors.”

 

What he fails to comprehend is that senators should be marked in high respect. Neither a 2.0, 2.25 nor 2.75 are scholarly, but a 2.75 can be respected and it’s not unbearable, as Sen. Yousra Hebeishy proposed in her original bill.

 

Fassi underlined his point that students have the right to be senators. I fundamentally disagree. A right is something inherent and irrevocable, so to say it’s a right contradicts all the other requirements set forth to become a senator.

 

In contrast, a privilege is a special benefit that is given. Students have the right to pursue eligibility, but the action to serve is a privilege. He seems to think we are marginalizing individuals, but I think he and others are de-emphasizing education.

 

For comparison purposes, the University of Central Florida and Florida International University, where some of my relatives attend, require their senators to maintain a 2.5 GPA. As noted in the previous edition, the Spinnaker governing body, Osprey TV and Osprey Radio require their students to have a GPA of 2.25 or higher.

 

Additionally, the Presidential Envoys require its leaders to have a 2.75 GPA. My fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, requires a 2.5 GPA. Why does SG feel they should be exempt from excelling in academics and still have the privilege and honor to serve the student body?

 

I hope the Senate can resolve this issue before March. If not, I will cultivate a movement during the elections in which I will attempt to spread awareness and highlight the importance of such an academic requirement. It’s one’s prerogative, but a student’s first priority should be his or her education.

 

SG should promote that message.

Email Roderick Williams at [email protected]

 

 

GPAs are an ineffective measuring stick for leaders

 

By: Greg Parlier, Editor in Chief

 

Grade point averages are a valuable metric to track students’ academic achievements. They offer a way for academic clubs and fraternities to judge the academic ability of students at a quick glance. In high school, GPA is a statistic on an aspiring college student’s resume that may illustrate the student’s commitment to success in the classroom.

 

But GPAs are not everything. They don’t define leadership qualities. They don’t define character.

 

The UNF Senate’s recent decision to lower the GPA requirement for Student Government members to a 2.0 has many hard-working students up in arms.

 

“If you can’t handle being a student, without the responsibility of SG added on top of that, then it’s questionable as to whether you’d be able to handle the responsibility of SG,” said Senator Yousra Hebeishy, who sponsored a bill that originally required SG members to have a 2.75 GPA before it was amended and re-amended at a recent Senate meeting.

 

I don’t doubt the demands of being a senator add a significant amount of responsibility to a schedule, and I certainly understand the desire to have Senators and other Student Government members be intelligent, motivated individuals.

 

I do doubt the ability of a GPA to accurately identify these characteristics in potential leaders. A GPA defines success inside the classroom but not outside of it.

 

The essence of this issue really boils down to what students want in a student government. Is it a priority that they be scholars in the classroom or leaders around campus?

 

UNF Student Government is an organization that aims to represent all students of the university – to allocate funding and amend the constitution to reflect those students’ wishes. As their website says, they aim to “create a representative government through which the individual student voice can be heard.”

 

That’s it. They don’t try for the highest GPA of all Student Governments, they don’t represent the school in Chem-a-thons or Geo-Bowls, they just attempt to mirror the wishes of the student body.

 

Do you need a high GPA, one any higher than the rest of the university, to accomplish this? I argue that you do not. You simply need people skills, leadership skills and most of all, integrity, to appropriately represent the students who pay your bills. Luckily, we, as students, get to evaluate potential candidates for these qualities and choose the ones who best fit.

 

Further, I would rather not have scholars and only those at the very top of their class representing all students. People who perform well in school tend to hang out and sympathize with others who do well in school. If our SG is made up entirely of honors kids, there would be a segment of the school left unrepresented.

 

Granted, a 2.25 GPA, as is the current requirement, is well short of scholarly. But that’s not the point. The point is, SG consists of student representatives, so we should not create rules to limit what realm of university society they can come from. Real life doesn’t care what grades you got in school, it just cares about your character and leadership abilities. The same standard applies here.

 

Peter Drucker, an influential writer and management consultant from Austria said it best. “No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”

 

SG, if anything, should be diverse. It has a long way to go to accurately portray that description. The last thing it should do is further limit academic diversity by requiring representatives to excel in the classroom any more than the rest of us.

 

Email Greg Parlier at [email protected]