Graduating Shepherd seniors are voicing opposition to a proposed joint decision by the university and senior class leadership to allocate their senior gift funds to a project that many consider to be of no benefit to the university, their class legacy or Shepherd students.
The controversial proposed senior gift consists of a town welcome sign to be placed as a motor vehicle greeting sign for drivers entering Shepherdstown from Maryland on WV Route 480. The sign’s current design fails to mention the university, the class of 2013 or even the state of West Virginia. The result is a graduating class that wants answers about mandatory graduation charges and the lack of a process to decide how those funds are spent, except for the senior class president’s executive power.
Many Shepherd seniors believe the senior gift and the mandatory fee they pay as upcoming graduates should benefit the university and future students, not simply the city of Shepherdstown. The current gift suggestion is widely believed amongst the campus population to be solely for the benefit of Shepherdstown and the Shepherdstown Rotary Club.
Students feel that the lack of any oversight, planning or senior class input toward the senior class gift are key factors in their dissatisfaction.
Irregularities regarding past years’ senior class gifts also exist, with several planned gifts remaining incomplete or not initiated at all. In some cases, senior class gifts to the university were not purchased, and no attempt was made to procure the planned gifts on behalf of these past years’ senior classes.
A multitude of excuses exist for why the gift projects were not completed or procured, but this does not eliminate the failures of the university to follow through on its commitment to its past senior classes and to allocate funds as directed by former SGA leaders.
The unspent funds from several past senior classes, which were allocated for senior gift purchases and not procured, are a primary source of funds for the $20,000 Shepherdstown Rotary Club welcome sign, with the current amount of unspent gift funds totaling approximately $12,000. With each senior class amassing approximately $2,000 for their class gift, it is obvious that a long-term oversight and leadership problem exists at Shepherd, and the current class of seniors is clearly angry, disenfranchised and looking for answers before their legacy becomes a road sign that is only sought by the university and select members of the SGA.
Julia Krall, the Shepherd University director of annual giving, stated that the SGA was presented the sign idea in a December meeting and the suggestion was presented to the senior class president for consideration. A firm decision has not been made in the case of the graduating class of 2013’s gift, but some past graduating class presidents have tentatively agreed for their residual and unused gift funds to be used in the sign project. This would be in lieu of their original gift plans, which were never completed by the university after their graduation and exit from Shepherd.
Dissatisfaction may result due to the student body’s failure to properly engage, challenge and monitor their elected representatives in SGA.
The constitution of the SGA states, “The president shall have the power and the authority to enact all resolutions, make all appointments, present all recommendations, and allocate all appropriations deemed necessary.”
This delivers almost dictatorial power in spending to the hands of one individual.
The class of 2013, however, is dissatisfied with the status quo and wishes to seek answers and ensure that they control their class gift funds derived from mandatory graduation fees.