The 51st legislature of the Student Government Association (SGA) passed the Elections Code bill 8-4 after two weeks of vacillating. SGA also funded $4,016.48 for the Black History Month Gala and tabled a bill that would fund $8,000 toward the Emory African Student Association (ASA) 2018 “Taste of Africa” event.
After two weeks of indecision, the legislature voted to pass the Elections Code bill with eight votes in favor, four against and one abstention. The bill amends the Elections Code to prohibit candidates from running on a joint ticket or sharing campaign materials and platforms.
Both Oxford representatives voted against the bill. Oxford SGA Speaker of the Senate Jacob Hicks (18Ox) said that Oxford SGA met Sunday night to discuss the bill and decided that they did not support it. Despite the ambiguity of the Elections Code, Oxford SGA felt that abolishing joint candidacy was not the correct solution.
“We generally feel that a joint ticket system … would allow the students to focus on the merits of platform and policy, not on the individual candidates,” Hicks said. “We feel that encouraging a system with running mates requires that individuals engage in small-scale campaigning and coalition-building, but forces that campaign to maintain a compelling message to the entire student body.”
SGA Sophomore Representative Johnna Gadomski (20C) proposed an amendment to the bill to prohibit candidates from endorsing other candidates, but it failed Monday. The amendment did not garner enough votes to obtain quorum, so Freshman Representative Austin Graham (21C) proposed the same amendment to rectify confusion among legislators about the voting process for the amendment, but it again failed to pass with five votes in favor and eight opposing.
“Individuals campaigning with a running mate would have an obvious advantage over individuals running independently in terms of the number of voters they can reach with their campaign,” Gadomski wrote in an op-ed in the Wheel last week.
The legislature tabled Bill 51sl46 which would fund $8,000 for ASA’s “Taste of Africa” event. If the funding is granted, then it will represent the largest amount of funding for any single event this year. ASA President Clementina Nyarko (18C), Treasurer Onyi Ohamadike (16Ox, 18C) and SGA Sophomore Representative Ngozi Ugboh (20C) presented the bill.
Due to demand, ASA moved the event this year from the Emory Conference Center Hotel to the Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta. Members of the legislature expressed concern at the low percentage of Emory students who would attend the event, which is open to the general public. Out of 400 estimated attendees, ASA projected that 120 would be Emory undergraduates, 90 graduate students, 100 non-Emory students, 40 Emory affiliates (faculty, staff, administrators) and 50 Atlanta community members, according to ASA’s presentation.
“$8,000 for an event that’s not 100 percent Emory students doesn’t make any sense to me,” SGA Vice President of Finance Javi Reyes (18B) said.
Nyarko said that the group has struggled to attract Emory students, who often only sign up for the event after tickets are sold out and must be turned away at the door. She also emphasized the importance of the event for the students of color on campus.
“Diwali is put on in the Fall semester by Indian Student Exchange [ICE] and it’s important that [that] isn’t [the] only premiere event for any kind of student of color community,” Nyarko said. “The community depends on ASA to come through. [We] always push for diversity and equity; this would be a great way to testify to [that].”
Nyarko also added that all additional proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Emory-approved charities.
The legislature decided to table the bill, with SGA President Gurbani Singh (18B) noting that SGA tabled the bill for the event last year three times, with the group eventually receiving $2,000 in funding. Palmer also said that the group should apologize and re-request funding from College Council after ASA skipped a supplementary budget hearing.
The legislature passed Bill 51sl47, presented by Black Student Association (BSA) President Imani Brooks (20C), providing $4,016.48 in funding for the BSA Black History Month Gala taking place Feb. 24. The bill initially called for $3,800.05 in funding but was amended by Brooks at the meeting because the number had changed.
The event costs around $9,000 total with the rest of the funding coming from College Council. About 200 students are expected to attend the gala at the Miller Ward Alumni House, according to Brooks.
SGA members were concerned about the short turnaround time between the vote and the event.
“They’re coming in six days before the event so we feel pressured to make a decision,” Junior Representative Madelyn Zapata (19C) said. “On our part, next year we can [tell the group] it needs to be two weeks in advance.”
SGA Executive Vice President Natasha Armstrong (18B) expressed support for the event.
“It’s a huge event for the black community,” Armstrong said. “It is something that we cherish as a black student group, so if giving this funding is going to allow us to enjoy that celebration that we look forward to every year I would keep that in mind.”
The legislature voted 10-0 to fund the event in full with three members abstaining.
Belicia Rodriguez contributed reporting.