On Aug. 6, I was presented with an ultimatum from the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Student Involvement Office: keep my position as the Gateway’s advertising and marketing manager or remain a Student Government senator. I will always choose the Gateway.
To give some context, I served as a Student Government Senator for an entire year. Only after successfully being reelected was I officially told that I had to choose between two student organizations.
The by-law that would ultimately remove me from Student Government was first brought to my attention in August 2017. Article VIII is known as the “Limitation Article” and states the positions exempt from serving on Student Government. Included last on the list is any staff member of the Gateway.
In recent years, other Gateway staff members have served as members of Student Government. For the 2017-2018 academic year, I was allowed to fully participate in Student Government activities. Since the by-law had already been brought to my attention and essentially ignored, I was under the impression that this had set a precedent that I would be allowed to hold my elected position.
Furthermore, Student Government had voted to alter the by-law that potentially threatened my position. The resolution passed. Regardless, due to the fact that the by-law was not only in the UNO Student Government’s laws–it was also a UNO Board of Regents Policy–I was still forced to choose between organizations as this academic year approached.
According to the NU Board of Regents Policies, “Members of the staffs of the student newspapers are prohibited from serving concurrently on the student senates. Members of the staffs of the student newspapers also are prohibited from serving concurrently on the publications committee.”
Student Body President Renata Valquier Chavez said the reason the legislation was put in place was to keep a separation between the press and the government.
“I’m going to learn more about why and when it was put into place, so I can make a knowledgeable decision going forward,” Valquier Chavez said. “I think that our college years are a prime time to broaden our horizons and try new things.
By not allowing staff members of the Gateway to be a part of Student Government goes against that. If I fail in being able to change it, I want to at least provide students with information to why it is this way.”
One of the most frustrating aspects is the time I spent preparing for the upcoming academic year—for which I was reelected as a senator representing the College of Public Affairs and Community Service. This ultimatum came after devoting time to seek reelection, attending a summer meeting and actually being inducted.
On top of numerous opportunities the Gateway has provided me, it also provides a monthly stipend that goes towards my living expenses. I shouldn’t have to choose between paying my rent and being involved in another student organization.
No other student news organization, including other student news organizations, conflict with serving on the senate.
I love being involved on campus. Even without Student Government and the Gateway, I’m president of Omicron Delta Kappa, vice president of MavReady, a member of Maes in STEM and work as a Thompson Learning community programmer.
This newspaper has been my home for the past four years. No matter the ultimatum, I will always choose the Gateway.
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities Student Government has provided me–opportunities future Gateway members deserve to pursue if they wish. I want to make it clear that I am not upset with any part of Student Government or the Student Involvement Office, rather the archaic by-laws that keep opportunities from students.