The Student Government Association (SGA) will split into two autonomous graduate and undergraduate branches following the passage of a University-wide referendum by a vote of 3,773 to 364 Tuesday night.
Legislators will now serve on either the Student Government Association (SGA) or the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA), each of which will function independent of the other. SGA will act as the primary governing body for undergraduates, and GSGA for graduate students.
A Joint Governance Committee (JGC) composed of executive members of both branches will meet regularly to address University-wide issues. GSGA will collect and monitor its own graduate student activity fee, according to the referendum website.
The SGA Restructure and Transition Plan, created in anticipation of the bill’s passage, projects that its six phases — which include the amendment of previous governing documents and a review of all organizations holding University-wide status — will be completed by April.
About 7,800 undergraduate students and 6,900 graduate students had the opportunity to vote online between Jan. 29 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. on the “Bill to Create an Equitable Student Government Structure.” The number of undergraduate versus graduate students who voted in the referendum is not available because the voting system does not break down voters by division, Emory University Elections Board Chair and Goizueta Business School senior James Cahill wrote in an email to the Wheel.
GSGA President and Goizueta Business School graduate student Jared Greenbaum called the passage of the referendum “a historic moment for Emory.”
Greenbaum said that the breakdown of the vote — 91.2 percent for and 8.8 percent against the bill — “shows the importance of this vote.”
SGA President and College senior Max Zoberman agreed, stating that the voter turnout itself — 4,137 total student voters — reveals the significance of this referendum.
“This is the highest turnout of any election in Emory’s history,” Zoberman said. “I’ve never seen numbers like this, ever.” The referendum attracted 69 more voters than the Fall 2014 referendum in which students voted against an increased per-semester Student Activity Fee (SAF), according to a Dec. 8, 2014 Wheel article.
Zoberman said splitting the undergraduate and graduate student governing bodies “should have been addressed a long time ago.”
The new SGA-GSGA structure resembles student governments at some of the Emory’s peer institutions such as New York University.
Correction (Feb. 1 at 3:51 p.m.): The article originally misidentified SGA as USGA.