Last week, Student Government hosted a self-indulgent “Student Government Fall Awards,” where the only awards I could hear over the crowd that paid no attention to the “ceremony” were “Most Innovative Piece of Legislation," “Best Senate Committee” and “Unsung Hero." The rest of the night not characterized by an unruly mob was reflective of the mob’s real desire: to enjoy a party in an expensive art gallery on the university's dime.
This event, as published in The Daily Gamecock last week, cost the university $2,350, an entire $850 over the initial budget. Of course the event was technically open to the public, but the most publicity the event got for the general body to be able to attend was in fact that article published just days before. Otherwise, Student Government was invited; and for the sake of appearances, some “student leaders" were invited.
Now to describe the actual event. We were greeted by a kind young man, obviously intoxicated out of his mind, shoving a pair of middle fingers in my girlfriend’s face. Next we entered a very nice art gallery with beautiful paintings adorning the walls which were on sale for thousands of dollars, while the main space was occupied by what was clearly turning out to be a very enjoyable party for some. This was not an “awards ceremony," it was the closest thing to a rager they could create.
To the side of the room we saw a small pile of toys that were to be donated to the Boys-and-Girls Club. The event organizers had called for donations literally hours before in some vain attempt to make this a “charity event." After the article last week accused them of this wasteful affair, they were presumably making a poor go at saving face.
At this point, it became painfully clear that apparently the entire party had attended a pre-game, which some friends of mine described as “packing a house like sardines” with everyone getting as wasted as possible. The event continued rather uneventfully with exactly the atmosphere one might expect from a bunch of arrogant and self-obsessed students who spent thousands of someone else’s dollars on a party as an excuse to get dressed up and plastered.
Already I’m willing to write this event off as a gross misuse of university funds because it is important to remember that the whole ordeal was paid for and approved by the university. I am sure no actual university official looked over the details, and that it got a little out of hand, but there is no way that an institution of education should be funding this nonsense.
However, as my group got ready to leave the party we were harshly moved out of the way and told to clear a lane. The space was necessary, as a member of Student Government covered in his own vomit and barely coherent was ushered through the party and down the front steps, brushing puke on my friend’s jacket. I went to check on the kid and try to escape the absurdity, and slipped on yet more throw-up as a girl who looked quite young had spewed on the floor by the exit of this fine art gallery.
Here I was blocked by some members of Student Government trying to hide the mess they created with the same methods a Greek frat might: “There’s an incident outside and I can’t allow you to leave." Well, first, I was being held captive. Second, Student Government officers were, presumably on instruction or even their own volition, trying to cover up the situation that they knew was bad.
Eventually my group forced our way out to leave and I encouraged another friend “handling” the issue to call an ambulance for the poor soul that had been escorted outside earlier who was now lying on the ground unable to answer any basic question. I rejoined my friends and they were already on the phone calling USCPD, who was aware of the situation and had EMS on the way. We heard sirens in the distance.
There needs to be a serious conversation about Student Government oversight and, frankly, if it is necessary for Student Government to continue to exist at all.
Jordan Wayburn is a fourth-year political science student.