The final SGA meeting of the 2016-2017 academic year saw a new Senate sworn in amidst a group decision to further look into and adjust the Student Government constitution and by-laws.
Now a new President, cabinet and Senate will have to consider possible reform options, following a unanimous decision aimed at lowering SGA E-board seat GPA requirements from 2.75 to 2.0. Jess Lovellette, Parliamentarian and chair of the Constitution Committee, brought back the committee’s recommendation that the new requirement be set for a 2.2 average, as opposed to 2.0. Lovellette also recommended that SGA wait until the fall semester to vote on a motion.
Senator LaJuan Allen disagreed.
“I would urge that the Senate push this motion through right now,” Allen urged. He argued that the decision to wait on the issue would be a step back for the Senate, holding them up further in their efforts to reform the constitution and by-laws next semester. “I don’t see how going back would be beneficial. We want to be moving forward.”
Concluding his statement, Allen made a motion to set the GPA requirement for SGA E-board candidates to a 2.2 average. For a moment, it seemed as if the motion might not garner a second, until Senator Declan Nolan tentatively raised his placard and brought the motion to life.
“Policies like these disproportionately affect queer students and students of color,” Nolan said. “Ranking students by their GPA makes it harder for them to come into leadership positions.”
Nolan also pointed out that students with learning disabilities would also suffer from higher GPA requirements, whether they cannot attain a 2.75 or are simply discouraged by having to get there, having the requirement set so high would limit their ability to participate.
When President Sam Giffen, Vice Presidents Victoria Munoz and Kolumbia Cook, Parliamentarian Jake Vitali and the new senators took their seats, the first order of business was to pass a motion aimed at tasking the new executive board with looking at the SGA constitution and by-laws in order to formally work toward fixing any issues there might be with the documents.
Giffen told The Beacon that she was in full support of the reform efforts, claiming that it was “well known” that SGA’s constitutions and by-laws were in need of changes.
“I believe there is a lot of work to be done, not just mere tweaking. I hope to change some of the committees that we have as well as other structural parts of SGA that will help it to be a more effective organization.” Giffen said. “I really wanted this motion to be made before the summer so we can take that time to dedicate to it since it deserves so much attention. We’ll also, of course, be taking input from past and future SGA members to ensure it will be updated with others’ thoughts included.”
Freshly-inaugurated Senator Andrew Baillargeon agreed that the reform was a necessary step to take after a highly controversial election season this spring.
“A huge criticism of these by-laws was that they were overtly vague and were not followed as strictly as they should have been, possibly due to their vagueness,” said Baillargeon. “I have complete confidence in the new E-board that they will take the summer to reflect on this election season, and that any changes made will be objectively for the better.”
With that, SGA concluded its proceedings for the academic year.