In light of the student government split, the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) now autonomously governs Emory graduate students, but it is doing so under a constitution that lacks crucial checks and balances.
As it stands, the GSGA Constitution does not mandate student referendums to pass legislation on issues of importance — such as changing the financial code or its constitution — and no external judicial branch exists to adjudicate cases for organizations that have violated regulations. The omission of such vital anchors of democracy, which existed prior to the split, forces the question: are those decisions indicative of incompetence, or corruption?
The former Student Government Association (SGA) “Emory votes yes” campaign centered on the promise of “strengthening student voices.” Without referendums, GSGA has the power to change its governing documents at any time without the consent of the students they govern. The exclusion of referendums threatens to undermine the legitimacy of any such changes made, and demonstrates GSGA’s failure to follow through on a central campaign promise.
Without a judicial branch it becomes difficult to ensure that GSGA follows its own laws, and nearly impossible to impose disciplinary measures if it does not. In contrast, the current SGA has both a Constitutional Council and a judiciary whose roles are fully outlined in its Constitution.
Even if legislators claim to value the input of graduate student organizations, this new constitution was constructed to shut graduate constituents out of the governing process and grant a shocking amount of autonomy to legislators.
After months of advocacy and deliberation, GSGA representatives successfully won equal representation for graduate students in student government. The challenge was to handle the launch of a new government that instilled trust and confidence in constituents. However, in their new Constitution, GSGA managed to cut out not only undergraduate voices, but the voices of their own constituents. Their deficient constitution proves they can not be trusted with such a momentous task.
By reneging on the promises they were founded on, GSGA does a vast disservice to the students who elected them, and sets themselves up for unreliable and ineffective governance.
The above editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel’s Editorial Board.