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Monday, October 19, 2020

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Haston rallies for explanation about overbudget stadium, Hofheinz renovation


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SGA President Charles Haston speaks to members of the senate on Wednesday. | Glissette Santana/The Cougar

During Student Government Association’s meeting held on Wednesday in the SGA senate chambers, SGA President Charles Haston addressed his concerns over the Department of Administration and Finance failing to abide by what they agreed with to a referendum that was voted on by students.

Haston spoke during a public comment portion in the Oct. 3 SFAC hearing, stating that because this referendum was not abided by, TDECU Stadium overbudget and its construction is not yet completed, compromising the funding for the renovation of Hofheinz Pavilion. The Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, that was included in the referendum that increased the Student Service Fee by $45, was meant to fund the renovation of Hofheinz and the construction of TDECU.

“This has been a little bit of a difficult year – these last six months,” Haston said. “Our job, I believe, as SGA is to be responsible for advocating for students here, even when that means that we have to have some tough conversations and that means holding people accountable.”

The MOU also states that the student body is allowed to host “one special event per year” in the stadium with no facility rental fee.

“That’s really concerning that we don’t have those funds to fulfill the rest of the obligations attached to the MOU,” Haston said.

“The impact that’s had on students has been very noticeable,” Haston said. “The only thing that I’ve seen happen in the past eight months, nine months…is that fees for student organizations and for departments have quadrupled or rung up even higher than that. For example, last year when governmental relations rented out the Hofheinz Pavilion, it was for $5,000, which make sense because it’s our own facility. This year it’s for $35,000 to rent that out, to hold an eight hour event there. It doesn’t really make any sense to me.”

With the drastic increase in rental fees and clauses of the MOU that are not being honored, Haston called out Emily Messa, the Associate Vice President for Administration. Messa is in charge of facilities on campus and declined to meet with SFAC publicly in order to speak about the MOU, the incompletion of TDECU Stadium and renovation of Hofheinz, Haston said.

“Everybody that receives student service fee money… is expected to come present before SFAC and be held accountable for the way that they spend those funds and their management of whatever it is that they’re doing, including facilities,” Haston said. “The notion that we’re going to allow one division or one department to not do that just does not resonate with me and just is not consistent with the transparency expected by divisions and departments… receiving student service funds.”

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