SGA Disputes Public Safety Reimbursement

SGA members are planning on meeting with Tressa Setlak, Director of Public Safety, to discuss a long-standing partnership between SGA and PS to host deputies from the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department at large campus parties such as Mardigreens in order to protect students.


Traditionally, the SGA has reimbursed Public Safety for the cost of hosting the deputies, which was a total of $480 at Mardigreens this year.


At the SGA meeting on Feb. 26, prior to Mardigreens, members disputed the effectiveness of the presence of the deputies noting that deputies were often seen “standing around,” and ignoring dangerous situations.


Traditionally, deputies from the Sheriff’s department are present to assist with non-students, or “townies” who enter campus property during large-scale events. The deputies also assist Public Safety with medical problems and other issues that may require experienced police officers.


The bill, Bill 19:11 [S] Mardigreens Safety Funding, was passed under the condition that SGA President Andrew Messick would veto the bill if SGA members were able to determine that the deputies did not adequately protect students at Mardigreens. Following this resolution, Messick sent an email to Setlak explaining the concerns of SGA members.


Following Mardigreens, Setlak responded to the email, stating that “putting caveats on the payment is unacceptable. SGA may not dictate how we or the deputies perform our jobs.”


SGA members discussed this response at the meeting on March 5, many voicing concerns over the role of SGA overseeing the usefulness of the deputies. SGA members also noted that the email’s tone was “a little rude” and “unprofessional.”


“We should not be told that our concerns are something to be discussed later, or that we are dictating the way that an organization does their job just because we feel the job isn’t being done well,” Commuter Senator Robert Artiga-Valencia said at the meeting, “If we feel the job isn’t being done well enough, then it likely isn’t, and I think that needs to be not only communicated but also reinforced systematically.”


SGA members also briefly floated discontinuing the partnership between PS and SGA, however, some noted that this may be “unprofessional,” and favored meeting with Setlak in person.


“We signed up for this job to be professional, and I think it looks better on us if we are more professional than our administrators,” Student Trustee Justin Hoobler said at the meeting, “if we go forward and meet with them then there is no stain on our records,”


President Messick will be meeting with Setlak later this week, and mentioned that he intends to “at least come to a mutual understanding of what future SGA/PS collaboration should entail,” and that he will “make clear that administrators are not to dictate the use of SGA funds.”


SGA members also stated that concerns over the effectiveness of deputies can be discussed during the Student Speakout portion of this week’s meeting on March 19.

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