Championship tickets, ethics lessons for SGA PresidentBy Jackson Fuentes | 01/10/2018 7:05pm
After what SGA President Jared Hunter called an unfortunate series of events, students at the University became concerned after learning Hunter received free tickets to the national championship game as the SGA president in addition to selling a student ticket for it.
“My position as the SGA President makes me a member of the President’s Official Party (POP),” said Hunter, a senior majoring in political science. “[When I opted in], I had never even heard of the POP. I was trying to get that free Taco Bell ticket.”
Hunter wanted to be clear that this was a miscommunication, and he had no intention of profiting off of his position as president.
“In no way do I think I’m abusing power intentionally,” Hunter said. “Obviously if I had known that I would be getting a complimentary ticket, I would not have opted in in the first place.”
After Hunter spoke with UA lawyers and administration, they agreed to restrict students in the POP from opting in from here on out. They also agreed there shouldn’t be a problem with the ticket sale since Hunter said he didn't make a profit.
“As long as we’re talking face value, there’s no issue,” said Hunter. “I just didn’t want to prevent somebody from being able to go.”
Senator Robert Pendley, a third-year law student on the senate ethics committee, said Hunter’s actions disappointed him and proposed that money be taken from his salary if he did profit.
“If President Hunter did make a profit… it would make sense to take that out of his salary or for him to pay some sort of restitutionary damages to SGA government,” he said.
Hunter called the miscommunication a learning experience for him, the administration and the POP, but said the situation in general should be taken lightly.
“I’m not trying to minimize the importance of it, but I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal,” said Hunter.
As a measure to prevent more situations like this, Hunter expressed interest in an executive oversight committee similar to a proposal from last year’s legislative session.
“Personally, I may feel a bit more confident if there was a small group of senators that made sure that all the elected officials that were receiving some sort of perk were in accordance with UA ethics law,” said Hunter.
However, he had reservations about the addition of a full committee, especially since administrators already provide a level of ethical oversight.
“Anytime we introduce another level of bureaucracy, I’m always a little bit hesitant,” he said.
Pendley, who pitched the executive oversight committee last year, said he may bring back his bill.
“I had introduced an ethics bill last year which might be meaningful to bring back up this session that would give some oversight to the senate oversight committee for the executive branch, for the judicial branch,” said Pendley. “We are elected by our colleges to serve the best interests of the students that are there, and I think a big part of that is the balance of power between the different branches, and right now, that’s not existing at all outside of the impeachment process.”
Both Pendley and Hunter definitely agree on one thing. This ethics debate is a lesson not to be soon-forgotten.
“Everything in life is a learning experience, especially my presidency," Hunter said.