KIRTLAND'S VETO REMAINS
A resolution to provide financial aid to drug offenders has fallen short after its second effort in Student Senate.
Student Senate voted Sunday to uphold president sophomore Mark Kirtland's veto of a resolution supporting the repeal of financial aid restrictions for drug offenders.
By a 10-11-1 vote, senator junior Josh Kappel's appeal fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to overturn Kirtland's veto of the resolution calling on Congress to repeal provisions of the Higher Education Act.
Kappel said he was unhappy with the result.
"I was disappointed that the Senate prematurely called the question to a vote without listening to the students in the gallery," Kappel said.
About 35 students packed the SUB Conference Room, among them several members from the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws and organizations that expressed opposition to the resolution.
At the start of the three-hour meeting, speaker senior Michael Pierson advised the gallery and senators to stick to a proper level of decorum.
Kappel then moved to suspend the agenda, but Kirtland objected, allowing Dean of Student Affairs Lou Ann Gilchrist to present. Before Kappel made his appeal, Kirtland nominated sophomore Daniel Poindexter to a voting senator position, resulting in a closed session of three minutes. Poindexter voted against the appeal.
In his opening speech, Kappel refuted Kirtland's veto by attacking each of his 11 points from the veto letter.
"It's true that only 1 percent of students are affected by this law, but that's 175,000 students that could be here," Kappel said. "A lot of people don't apply because of this law."
Kappel said the cost of overturning drug convictions and entering rehabilitation programs, which would allow students with prior convictions to regain financial aid, is prohibitive.
"The cost of outpatient treatment is $1,040," Kappel said. "If you don't have money to go to school, how then can you afford this?"
In response to the appeal, Kirtland released a letter to the student association explaining the rationale behind his veto and read it aloud to the gallery.
Kirtland wrote that students who want to better themselves will take the initiative.
"After you take this step towards improvement, the government will further help you by providing funding to attend an institution of higher education and further pull yourself to a better place in our society regardless of your race, class or economic ability," he wrote. "This is the system we have now, and it is, in my opinion, the best way to truly eliminate the drug problem in America."
Organization representatives from Alpha Sigma Gamma, Beta Theta Pi and Prism expressed their support for the veto.
Junior Greg Wisa, Prism social chairman, said his organization thinks Senate has lost sight of the issue.
"There is a large problem with crystal meth in the gay community across the nation," Wisa said. "People who have a drug problem should seek help from a treatment program before seeking higher education."
Junior Grant Tower, parking appeals chairman, expressed the Betas' support for the veto. Tower and Kirtland both are Betas.
"Mark Kirtland, with this veto, did what the student government failed to do," Tower said. "Represent the student association, not just the 30 people in the gallery. The majority of students support this veto."
Kirtland and Kappel both earned their positions with milestone margins. In April, Kirtland won the presidency against junior David Bonner by a 3-to-1 margin. In September, Kappel received the most votes, with 351 out of 677 students voting for him. Former senator sophomore Eric Wooten said Truman looks at a prospective student as a whole and not just at one negative incident.
Wooten said the law punishes one mistake.
"If someone's in a rut, the government says, 'You're in the second rate of society, you can't go to college, good luck with finding a job, good luck with your life,'" Wooten said.
Wisa said students who receive federal money should follow the rules.
"What it comes down to is if you go to school, you have to follow the rules, and no one should be exempt from those rules," Wisa said.
Two of the three senators absent from last week's meeting voted in favor of the appeal, with senior Parviz Jabarov abstaining. The lone abstaining senator from last week voted for the appeal while two senators who supported the resolution voted to sustain the veto. Members of the gallery snapped their fingers as each senator cast his or her vote.
"I'm greatly offended that Mark Kirtland doesn't trust me and 10 other senators to go out and talk to students," said sophomore Mindy Maness, external affairs chairwoman. "However, he went out and talked to his constituents. I'm in favor of this veto and this resolution."
Kappel said he has not planned for next semester yet.
"I hope more open-minded people will run for Student Senate in the next election," Kappel said.
Index (Truman State U, MO Edu)
Copyright: 2005 Index