After its precarious split from the undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) last year, the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) finally released their constitution to The Emory Wheel after multiple requests for the document. GSGA has supposedly been operating under this code for the last five months, since ratifying it April 17.
Unlike SGA, GSGA’s constitution contains no mention of public documents. Financial information, voting records and minutes are not accessible to graduate students or Wheel reporters. Though students can formally request information about GSGA meetings and minutes, their elected representatives have no obligation to accede.
The legislature’s bylaws also grant astonishingly unregulated powers to members; with a simple majority vote, GSGA reserves the right to “enact a budget policy separate from [its] bylaws to govern the both the GSGA Legislature and Executive Board expenditures of GSGA funds.” Such a policy could presumably be enacted without any input from graduate students, GSGA’s primary financiers.
Unlike SGA’s constitution, GSGA’s constitution contains no mention of a judicial process to ensure that it abides by its constitution and bylaws. In fact, GSGA’s new constitution is practically identical to its deficient interim constitution used early last spring; no substantive changes have been made. Additionally, GSGA’s constitution and bylaws grant the legislature total control over the constitution. Voting members could theoretically rewrite and ratify both documents without any checks from the student body or University administration.
Though their intentions may be pure, without structures in place to scrutinize the legality of their actions and with no obligation to publicize its decisions, GSGA representatives are essentially free to use student funds however they see fit. No government should have been established under such lenient terms, and representatives should work to quickly rectify these deficiencies. Such governance may sound draconian or tedious, but GSGA representatives have a duty to hold themselves and future legislatures responsible for their decisions.
The Editorial Board is composed of Jennifer Katz, Madeline Lutwyche and Boris Niyonzima.