By Adam Baker/News editor
Changes to the Student Government Association’s bylaws and constitution are one step closer to being finalized.The Student Senate unanimously passed two resolutions Tuesday night, both of which will alter their governing documents including one proposal giving members academic credit for their service.
The senate made several amendments to the legislation before its passage. The changes came after Student Body President Kristina O’Brien expressed concern during her presidential address about some parts of the proposed constitutional revisions.
“There is a problem with some of the wording (in the proposal concerning) academic credit for representatives of student government,” she told the senate. “Those statements must be removed if we would actually like to have the opportunity to earn credit for our service.”
The original resolution called for a “favorable performance evaluation” by various student government members before academic credit could be awarded to SGA representatives.
O’Brien explained the legislation would not be approved by the Council on Student Affairs or the Board of Regents – two bodies the measure must also pass before becoming final – if the wording remained.
“According to this university and every other university that I know of, a student’s grade cannot be directly based on the input of another student,” she said.
O’Brien also urged the Senate to add a line to the constitution stating members of the executive cabinet must submit progress reports regarding their committee members before the cabinet members could receive academic credit hours.
“I am completely confident that (the proposal) will be returned because it does not meet academic requirements and we will go through this process again,” she said.
O’Brien’s next concern regarded a proposal giving the Senate secretary the right to vote. The secretary currently can participate in senate discussions but is not allowed to vote.
The secretary is a member of the executive cabinet that is composed of the senate’s vice president, resident life vice president, student activities council vice president, treasurer and chief of staff. The three vice presidents are elected, and the treasurer, secretary and chief of staff are appointed by the president.
As written now, the constitution allows all executive cabinet members to vote with the exception of the secretary and executive vice president. The vice president can only vote to break a tie.
“If the secretary has a vote (the president) could fundamentally make (their) appointments to fill the secretary, treasurer and chief of staff position with people who are going to vote (their) way every time,” she said. “In which case you could run into situation after situation where the executive cabinet would be split with the appointed people voting against the elected people and the president making the ultimate decision.”
O’Brien said this concern came up last year in constitutional revisions.
“We decided it would give too much power and authority to the president,” she said. “The other thing to take into consideration is (that) because the secretary cannot vote that member can serve in another capacity in student government. It is also the only position that a part time student can fill.”
O’Brien said if the senate decided to give the secretary voting rights, they would have to “refine the requirements for holding (that) position.”
“The decision is up to you,” she told the senate. “But I would strongly encourage you to have some debate.”
SAC and RLC considered O’Brien’s concerns prior to the senate. SAC agreed with O’Brien and passed the resolution with O’Brien’s suggested changes. RLC tabled the resolutions until their next meeting.
The senate followed SAC’s lead and passed amendments addressing the issues O’Brien’s raised.
“I don’t see why we can’t do this because it’s going to be beneficial to us most of all,” Student Senator Nick Hart said.
The resolution regarding constitutional revisions unanimously passed the senate with the amendments.
A resolution changing the wording in some portions of the senate’s bylaws also unanimously passed with amendments from Student Senator Reid Connelly.
O’Brien said following RLC’s approval, the constitutional legislation will go before the Council on Student Affairs around the beginning of April.
After that body’s approval, O’Brien plans to have the legislation go before the Board on April 22.
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