Editorials

Iran. Libya. North Korea. Somalia. Syria. Venezuela. Yemen.

After the Supreme Court’s ruling in Trump v. Hawaii, individuals from these seven countries will be restricted from entering the United States out of a concern for national security. Debates about constitutional law aside, Executive Order 13,780 is bad policy. The ban is discriminatory — there’s a reason only two of those nations are not Muslim-majority, and it’s because Trump’s first travel ban was ruled unconstitutional after it only targeted Muslim nations. North Koreans and Venezuelans are now being used as legal cannon fodder to mask the Islamophobic rhetoric behind the ban, which was heavily pronounced during President Donald Trump’s campaign. Government officials have historically invoked the language of national security to make discrimination and overreach legal. But this mechanism for legalizing exclusion must be met with continued resistance, especially by American educational institutions.

This ruling flies in the face of Emory University’s mission statement, which seeks to foster a “global perspective on the human condition” while critical community members are being targeted. There are a number of ways the University can minimize the impact of the travel ban. University President Claire E. Sterk released a June 27 statement expressing her disappointment with the Supreme Court decision, setting the tone for the work ahead. She said that the University will continue working to “ensure that Emory’s doors remain open to bright, dedicated thinkers from all nations, faiths, and backgrounds.”Though the University has taken action by submitting amicus briefs and lobbying, it’s important to continue this legal work and remember to take care of Emory community members who are affected by this in the name of preserving intellectual diversity.

Emory could, for example, ensure individuals from these nations are connected with Student Legal Services at the Emory University Law School, similar to how it has helped undocumented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students. The University should also continue to support students who don’t go home during school breaks for fear of being barred upon re-entry by providing housing and work options. Additionally, the University should promote on-campus mental health services to aid the students affected by the travel ban. Emory should make clear that it prioritizes the safety of its diverse community members by encouraging them to discuss the challenges they now face in a forum-style dialogue. The University should also work with the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life (OSRL) to develop structured programs that acknowledge the needs of affected students. Hopefully, OSRL can serve as a bridge between the administration and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) to ensure that proactive steps are taken to protect students affected by the travel ban.

About 5 percent of the University’s 2,000 full-time instructional staff members who are nonresident aliens. Thirty-three percent of Emory’s full-time research staff are also non-resident aliens, which demonstrates the sizeable impact immigrants have on Emory’s academic life.

The University should respond to this Supreme Court ruling by taking substantive action to protect students’ access to and quality of education. Just because our president’s lawyers have managed to finagle a discriminatory policy doesn’t mean that we have to sit by idly. It is in Emory’s best interests to continue to attract and host a variety of world views. As such, Emory should work to guarantee the security that the government has tried to provide for some, but has failed to provide for many others.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak, Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju and Isaiah Sirois. 

As a search committee looks for Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair’s replacement, the Editorial Board urges it to select candidates who can further Nair’s work as a liaison for underrepresented student groups, an advocate for open expression and a reformer of Greek Life. Though Nair achieved much in these areas, Emory’s new dean must build on his accomplishments and continue to address student concerns and needs.

Nair made himself available to students through open office hours and “Desserts with the Dean,” an annual event held in his home. He addressed student concerns by remaining informed and connected to students, especially through social media. When Emory’s women’s tennis team Head Coach Amy Bryant posted a photograph of an insensitive Halloween costume last October on her Facebook, Nair responded to students’ concerns in a timely and thoughtful manner, legitimizing students’ voices. He also helped student organizations such as Emory Entrepreneurship & Venture Management (EEVM) obtain their own space on campus this past year. Nair set a high standard in accessibility, and his successor should strive to match it.

During his tenure, Nair fostered an Emory community conscious of social justice, created the Commission on Racial and Social Justice and served as a liaison between underrepresented groups and the administration, often during periods of high tension on campus. Despite criticisms of the administration’s handling of the event, Nair directly worked to address the 13 demands made by student group Black Students at Emory in 2015, earning him media praise. University President Claire E. Sterk said that Emory’s division of Campus Life became “a national pacesetter on issues of social justice” under Nair’s leadership. To maintain this distinction, Emory must ensure that any candidate considered to lead Campus Life has extensive experience working with minority groups.

Nair has repeatedly emphasized the importance of free speech and open dialogue. Emory currently has a green light rating from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE); Emory is one of only 37 universities nationwide to achieve this rating for its free speech policies. The new dean of Campus Life must ensure that this respect for open expression continues, even in the face of unpopular speech. Such a commitment is essential to ensuring that Emory remains a place where ideas can be exchanged freely.

Further, to foster a culture more considerate of students’ well-being, the next dean should encourage greater allocation of resources toward mental health services. While the University makes an effort to advertise the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) program, students often complain about long waiting periods for CAPS appointments and a general lack of mental health resources on campus. Increasing the number of CAPS appointments and counselors available and continuing to explore other resources for students is key to cultivating a healthier and more resilient student body.

Finally, Nair regarded reforming Emory’s Greek life as one of the most significant issues facing Campus Life, but told the Wheel in January that his vision for a more inclusive Greek life system remains unfulfilled. Nair launched Emory’s Greek Life Task Force (GLTF) and worked with student leaders in Greek life and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) to address hazing, drug and alcohol abuse and sexual assault. While some of his actions were controversial, Nair was dedicated to improving student safety. We hope that the next dean can finish the job Nair set out to complete and work to build a healthier relationship between the University and its Greek community.

While Nair’s tenure was not without criticism, he has left a legacy of reform that we hope the next dean of Campus Life can successfully maintain while championing new policies of their own.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak, Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju and Isaiah Sirois. 

In its first attempt at a legislative session, the 52nd legislature of the Student Government Association (SGA) rashly violated its Finance Code by considering changes to the distribution of the Student Activities Fee (SAF) without first notifying the student body.

Bill 52sl2 would not only change SAF distribution, but it would also “suspend” parts of the Finance Code “for the sole purposes of passing the legislation.” But the Finance Code exists for a reason: to protect students’ interests and check potential abuses of power by the student government. The Finance Code should not be suspended or changed without properly notifying, and gaining the approval of, the student body.

The bill was introduced in wake of SGA President Dwight Ma’s (17Ox, 19C) veto of the budget passed by the 51st legislature, an action that also violates the Finance Code. The Code states in Part II Section 6 that the previous legislature approves the budget for the next legislature. If Ma wanted to challenge the budget, he should have done so when the 51st legislature approved it on April 3.

SGA demonstrated astounding ignorance of procedural rules in allowing Bill 52sl2 to be placed on the agenda and to be read despite the objections of former SGA President Gurbani Singh (18B) and former Speaker of the Legislature and Senior Representative William Palmer (18C), who were both present at the meeting.

Despite failing to meet quorum for an official legislative session, newly elected student government leaders heard Bill 52sl2, which would redirect SAF money from Goizueta students that is currently allocated to College Council (CC) from 14 to 4 percent, instead allocating that 10 percent to BBA Council. Per Part II, Rule 6 of its bylaws, a quorum, “shall be maintained throughout the whole of all legislative meetings. In the absence of quorum, the Legislature has the power only to order a call of the House, to recess, or to adjourn.”

Further, the SGA Finance Code Part VII states that “All bills that amend the SGA Finance Code must be advertised to the university-wide student body before being heard by the Student Legislature on the daily calendar.” Thus far, SGA has made no effort to publicize the bill. We condemn this alarming first action taken by our new student government leaders, all of whom championed increased transparency of student government during their campaigns yet tried to set this bill in motion without first consulting the University student body.

Instead of holding a pseudo-meeting without quorum, SGA should have cancelled its session and publicized the bill.

Constitutional breaches aside, SGA should be wary of passing Bill 52sl2 prematurely. A large justification for BBA Council President Jay Krishnaswamy’s (16Ox, 19B) bill is an audit on Goizueta Business School clubs carried out last year by the previous BBA Council. According to that audit, some Business School clubs which host a large number of members who are students enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences do not receive enough funding from CC to reflect their membership, and instead are funded primarily by BBA Council funds. SGA should consider conducting its own independent review of club participation and exercise caution before passing any changes to SAF distribution.

Singh and Palmer urged legislators at the meeting to follow the processes codified in both the SGA constitution and Finance Code, to no avail. The fact that previous student government representatives found violations of SGA’s constitution in the first meeting of their new legislature shows a wanton ignorance of SGA’s procedures by the new student leaders.

Just as distressing is the fact that SGA is currently operating without an attorney general. Moving forward, the legislature must appoint an attorney general who is knowledgeable of SGA’s governing documents and is willing and able to check the kinds of oversights and abuses of power that have become commonplace in SGA in recent years.

The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak, Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju and Isaiah Sirois. 

Recently, University President Claire E. Sterk has increased her public appearances around campus. Though Sterk told the Wheel last year that she planned to be “60 to 70 percent externally focused,” she still has a responsibility to foster campus community and build relationships with Emory students and faculty. Sterk’s recent actions, including office hours with student organizations and the revival of “Conversations on the Quad,” which seeks increase dialogue about social issues on campus, show a commendable effort to that end. While we appreciate the president’s efforts to further engage with the community, we hope that they constitute a broader shift in her accessibility and that she continues to augment her visibility initiatives.

This semester, Sterk created the opportunity for student organizations to schedule 20-minute meetings with her. These meetings are great for clubs who want to submit formal concerns directly to Sterk. However, although 50 student organizations expressed interest in obtaining one of the meeting times, only four student organizations were granted a time slot. Emory hosts more than 375 chartered student organizations, according to its website; four 20-minute sessions are insufficient for Sterk to engage with a significant portion of student groups. The Office of the President told the Wheel that it plans to accommodate all of the groups who expressed interest in meeting with Sterk. We appreciate the president’s willingness to meet with everyone who wants to do so, as these meetings allow students to feel like they have a voice on campus and potentially create impactful change on behalf of their organizations.

The president also hosted and participated in the April 5 “Conversations on the Quad,” an event billed as a conversation among Emory community members to foster a “culture of innovation.” Although the event felt slightly superficial — more like a public relations stunt than an opportunity for meaningful conversation — Sterk’s attendance demonstrated an attempt to increase her public visibility, a goal she told the Wheel about in March in response to calls for more appearances. We hope Sterk continues this trend of attending large, public events where Emory students, faculty and staff openly share their thoughts and people can see their leader participating in our community.

The College of Arts and Sciences promotes itself as an institution replete with the advantages of a small liberal arts college, including a certain level of familiarity with faculty and administrators. While her Sterk’s main job is to raise money for the entire University, she must also be open to hearing student input and should appear as a present, active member of the Emory community. Alternatively, she could ensure that someone — perhaps a dean or Campus Life representative — fills that role.

Former University President James W. Wagner, who retired in August 2016, was often sighted walking around campus, talking to students. A sense of community is an integral part of any university, and Sterk has an important role to play in developing that at Emory.

The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak, Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois. 

During a March 30 Elections Board hearing to address electoral misconduct challenges against two Student Government Association (SGA) presidential candidates, students took issue with the Wheel’s publication of complainants’ names, one of whom requested that the Elections Board grant him anonymity; however, the student body has a right to be informed when a presidential candidate is accused of electoral misconduct.

To ensure transparency and fairness in student government elections, SGA legislators should vote against Bill 51sl65, which would allow challenges to be submitted anonymously to the Elections Board. Student government representatives frequently tout transparency as a priority; we hope they realize that, except in extreme circumstances, protecting sources is less important than keeping the student body informed. Any student who files a challenge should be prepared to stand by their claim and allow the public to evaluate their credibility and motivations behind filing a complaint or submitting further evidence.

The Wheel adheres to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, which recommends that news organizations identify sources clearly, so that readers can evaluate the credibility of those individuals’ claims. Anonymity is an inherent barrier to that end, and is reserved for extreme cases, such as when the source faces “danger, retribution or other harm.”

It is questionable whether Chair of the Elections Board Betty Zhang (20C) had the means to enforce students’ requested anonymity; all SGA documents are public, per the SGA Constitution; all Elections Board hearings are public, per the Code of Elections; and there is no clause in the Code of Elections that specifically addresses anonymous challenges to the Elections Board. Regardless, granting anonymity to sources hinders the Elections Board’s ability to carry out transparent investigations, and should be avoided.

The Wheel’s news team published factual information relevant to student government elections, all of which was received on the record. While we are disappointed that the Oxford Business Club was “shocked and appalled” by the Wheel’s news coverage, the newspaper’s role is to distribute information to Emory’s student body, even if that means making involved parties uncomfortable.

Some claimed that the Wheel’s coverage of the allegations against SGA presidential candidates Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) and Marrio Karras (17Ox, 19B) revealed a bias against those candidates. This accusation is faulty and reveals a lack of knowledge of journalistic practices. While the Wheel’s Editorial Board endorsed Elias Neibart (20C) for SGA president, that endorsement was published independently from the Wheel’s news team, which covered all allegations that were made against candidates. A firm divide exists between the editorial and news sections of the Wheel; the Wheel’s editor-in-chief and copy editors are the only people privy to both news and editorial content.

Time and time again, Emory’s student government has demonstrated that they are capable of making mistakes. Transparent practices and unbiased news coverage protect SGA and the student body from corruption and carelessness, and the Wheel will continue to inform the student body of all relevant information pertaining to student government elections this year and in the future.

The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak, Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois and Mathew Sperling. 

The Spring 2018 Student Government Association (SGA) elections have been plagued by myriad issues, including changes in the date of the SGA presidential run-off; confusion over students’ voting status; unequal handling of late candidacy submissions; and formal challenges against two SGA presidential candidates. The Elections Board’s handling of these issues has revealed that the Board is unversed in its own procedures and ill-prepared to manage a fair election. By failing to equitably apply the regulations laid out in Emory’s Code of Elections, the Board brought into question the integrity of the process and sowed unnecessary confusion among students. Though Elections Board Chair Betty Zhang (20C) has declared her intention to resign, SGA’s problems are not over. With the conclusion of elections, the SGA legislature should investigate the rest of the Elections Board’s conduct and amend the Code of Elections to ensure that future elections are not marred by similar issues.

The Elections Board demonstrated a clear lack of procedural knowledge when it mistakenly invalidated the SGA presidential race on Friday, March 30, and called for a re-vote, only to reverse its decision hours later after SGA Speaker of the Legislature and Senior Representative William Palmer (18C) intervened; according to the Elections Code, the Elections Board cannot call for a re-vote.

Additionally, students were allowed to vote based on their official University class status, which is determined by the number of credit hours they have completed. This is a change from previous election cycles and it resulted in the disenfranchisement of juniors who have senior standing but will not graduate this Spring. Other classes also voted for the wrong representative because of this flawed system. For example, freshmen who had sophomore standing voted for a junior representative, but the junior representative will not serve them next year. The inability of some students to vote correctly because of their credit hours meant that the 2018 election results represent a skewed portrayal of student opinion. This shows poor decision making by the Elections Board, and SGA should immediately clarify any ambiguity that allowed the Board to structure the election in this erroneous manner.

The Elections Board allowed multiple candidates to run for office despite failing to declare their candidacies by the deadline. In a slew of ad hoc decisions, the Board allowed Marrios Karras (17Ox, 19B), Karen Lee (21C) and Radhika Kadakia (20C) to enter the races for SGA president, SGA sophomore legislator and College Council (CC) president, respectively. The Board permitted Lee and Kadakia to run on the precedent set when they allowed Karras into the election because of his claims that a spotty internet connection prevented him from declaring.  Additionally, the Elections Board did not independently verify CC Vice President Naman Jain’s claim (18C) that if Kadakia were not allowed to run, the race for CC president would have been uncontested; in reality, two students had declared their candidacies for CC president. However, when Sania Chandrani (19B) attempted to run for SGA president, the Board prevented her from entering the race. Chandrani initially declared her candidacy on time for CC president, but was denied after a review found that she was ineligible for the position as a Goizueta Business School student. The Board then refused to allow her entry into the race for SGA president because the filing deadline had passed. This uneven application of rules calls into question the impartiality and competence of the Elections Board.  

Additionally, the Elections Board hearing for challenges against SGA presidential candidates Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) and Mario Karras (17Ox, 19B) was scheduled for 1 p.m. on March 30, just eight hours before the close of the three-day voting period. During the hearing, multiple students contended that Zhang violated the Elections Code when she forwarded the name of one person who filed a complaint against Ma to the Wheel, even though he stated that he wished to remain anonymous. Zhang sowed further confusion during the hearing when she said that those who filed complaints could in fact remain anonymous even though the Elections Code does not address anonymous complaints.

The aforementioned issues are among several other problems that have affected this election, including a failure to send the declaration form to Lee, and the fact that the Board failed to clarify why the options for SGA senior legislator did not include the candidates names and were listed only as letters A, B and C.

This election was clouded by social media commentary, rumors and extreme disorganization. The Elections Board’s actions created a widespread distrust and confusion in the election process. More than 300 people have signed a petition calling for a recall of all student government elections as of 6:48 p.m. on April 3. The current Elections Board members’ failure to adhere consistently to the Elections Code and seeming lack of basic knowledge concerning SGA’s governing documents demonstrate that they are unprepared to run Emory’s elections. Emory’s student body deserves better.

The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak, Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois and Mathew Sperling. 

“I’m shooting up the school. Tomorrow. Stay in your rooms. The ones on the quad are the ones who will go first.”

Only a few years ago, an Oxford College sophomore posted that message on social media platform Yik Yak, threatening a mass shooting over fall break. Emory Police Department (EPD) arrested the student the day of the threat, but student government representatives claimed a lack of communication between the administration and students caused unnecessary panic on campus. News about the threat had spread via word of mouth and social media for 20 hours before any official University communication was released. Emory responded, “We’ve concluded that a more timely campus communication following the student’s arrest would have benefited the community.”

But in the years since the incident, Emory’s emergency response systems have remained insufficient.

Amid a period of mass shootings in schools and public spaces, Emory is not exempt from a responsibility to prepare for such an event on or near campus. Emory’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) must act to ensure emergency responses communicate sufficient information and update emergency procedures to address active-shooter threats.

Just last semester, Emory issued a “shelter in place” alert on Sept. 20, 2017, in response to the escape of a fugitive from the nearby Atlanta VA Medical Center. The “shelter in place” directive is vague and confusing, and the campus response was inconsistent and panicked. Some professors took precautionary measures within their classrooms, even barricading doors, while others seemed to ignore the alerts and continued teaching class as usual. False rumors of a shooter circulated the community as professors and students alike were unsure of how to respond.

The Wheel reported this week that Emory will no longer issue emergency alerts except in cases where human life is imminently threatened, but more needs to change for those alerts to be effective in a true emergency. Community members need information about the nature and location of a threat and specific instructions about how to proceed to safety. According to CEPAR’s senior administrator Sam Shartar, future alerts will include that information. Unlike after the Oxford threat, CEPAR must ensure that those changes are implemented quickly and effectively.

For active shooter situations, CEPAR recommends a “run, hide, fight” response on its website. The strategy originated from a video produced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the City of Houston’s Mayor’s Office of Public Safety. The video recommends people either flee or seek shelter, and, as a last resort, tells victims to “act with aggression” to incapacitate an assailant.

While the five-minute video is far from comprehensive, peer institutions such as the Georgia Institute of Technology and Duke University (N.C.) follow similar protocols and cite the same video. That is unsurprising, as the unpredictable nature of shootings makes formulating a standard response nearly impossible.

The unfortunate reality is that there’s only so much the University can do once a shooting has started. Thankfully, Emory is currently reviewing its current safety measures and those of peer institutions.

But CEPAR can do more to facilitate “run, hide, fight” strategies. Distributing more information during an emergency and ensuring that every room on campus has a door that locks are concrete steps Emory can take to ensure everyone’s safety.

Emory must focus on measures to prevent violent events such as campus shootings and violent threats. CEPAR is rolling out a three-stage video program to help Emory managers, faculty and students identify potential threats to campus safety. The program will educate the community on how to report potential threats to Emory’s Threat Assessment Team, a group that investigates threats and refers individuals to health services or to law enforcement.

As students across the country lobby for gun control legislation, updating University policy and procedure is just a small part of what Emory should do to help prevent future shootings. The Emory community has a rare opportunity to take part in a national movement for gun control being fueled largely by students. It’s imperative we seize the opportunity.

The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak,  Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Isabeth Mendoza, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois and Mathew Sperling. 

 

Non-traditional Emory University students who are at least 25 could soon be eligible to receive financial relief via the HOPE Scholarship. Emory should take steps to support legislation to make Georgia’s in-state colleges and universities more accessible, which has already gained support in the Georgia House of Representatives. House Bill 928, sponsored by State Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville), would expand eligibility requirements for the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship to include students up to 15 years out of high school, from a previous cap of seven years.

Not only does the law offer benefits to current and future Georgia students, but it does so without financially risking the HOPE scholarships of current ones — existing scholarship amounts are set and sufficient funding exists to cover the proposed expansion.

In the 2015-16 academic year, 3 percent of Emory’s 6,861 undergraduate students were over the age of 25, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. If current non-traditional students hail from Georgia, they could be eligible for up to $4,480 in annual state-funded grant aid, nearly 10 percent of Emory’s full tuition. That funding would help Emory attract the diverse pool of students it touts as central to its educational mission and make higher education more attainable for non-traditional students.

In 1993, former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller created Georgia’s state lottery to fund the HOPE Scholarship and pre-kindergarten programs. But after the Great Recession forced cuts to the HOPE Scholarship, Georgia diverted money to a legally mandated reserve to protect the scholarship. Sufficient funding exists to finance H.B. 928: Since the recovery of lottery revenue after 2011, the mandated reserve has swelled to $490 million, alongside the growth of an unmandated reserve that has reached $500 million, and for the last five years, an additional $73 million has been put aside to help fund HOPE.

The bill has already passed through the Georgia House of Representatives’ Higher Education committee. Emory’s administration and community should support non-traditional students by advocating for the bill’s passage through the Georgia House and Senate. Backing H.B. 928 is a low-stakes, substantive action the University can take to support educational access within Emory and across Georgia.

The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak,  Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Isabeth Mendoza, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois and Mathew Sperling. 

To students who want to know who their Student Government Association (SGA) or Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) representatives are, good luck.

SGA’s OrgSync and website are both woefully out of date, listing multiple members who are no longer active and lacking updated information such as proposed bills and minutes from the past couple of academic years. The SGA website has not been updated since 2015, and OrgSync only has accurate information about forms and lists the SGA president, executive vice president and treasurer.

Similarly, GSGA’s OrgSync has not been updated since April 2017, and its website also fails to list all current legislators or any new events since last semester. Although GSGA and SGA have released versions of their respective constitutions and bylaws to the Wheel after multiple requests, they are not readily available to the public.

SGA President Gurbani Singh (18B) wrote in her presidential platform last year that she hoped to “improve communication and transparency between students and our [SGA] administration.” Although Singh’s administration created a communications committee November 2017, the committee has not achieved its purpose, which Singh defined as updating “the website, our design, our strategy for communicating.”

Student government’s lack of transparency makes it difficult for the greater student body to properly engage in policymaking. It is critical that students have easy access to governing documents, proposed bills and meeting agendas and minutes. Without a method to track policy decisions, student government representatives cannot be held accountable for their campaign promises. 

To ensure accountability and facilitate student involvement in campus governance, all governing bodies should take measures to increase their transparency and community presence. Beyond website updates, there’s a simple way for Emory’s student government to achieve this: Livestream meetings.

Livestreaming would require minimal cost and effort, while allowing students to easily observe or review regular public meetings at students’ convenience. SGA and GSGA ought to follow the lead of student governments at other universities, including the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Kansas State University, where legislatures broadcast meetings on free streaming services such as Facebook Live.

Student government elections are set to take place in March. As that deadline looms, our legislators should make a concentrated effort to ensure that their constituents know who their representatives are and what those representatives are doing on students’ behalf before we cast our votes.

The above Editorial represents the consensus opinion of the Wheel’s editorial board.

The editorial board is composed of Nora Elmubarak,  Andrew Kliewer, Madeline Lutwyche, Isabeth Mendoza, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju, Isaiah Sirois and Mathew Sperling.