Because it is the start of the academic year, it’s time to remind Emory’s Student Government Association (SGA), and its leadership, of the promises they made to the student body last year. These proposals include weekly publication of meeting agendas on social media, expanding the Free Tampon and Pads Initiative, funding scholarships for unpaid internships, updating the SGA website and creating a monthly newsletter to keep students informed.
We must hold student government officials accountable in following through on these initiatives.
SGA President Ben Palmer (18Ox, 20C) and Vice President Lori Steffel (21B) should swiftly deliver on their promise of an updated website. The lack of online access to SGA’s activity has been a longstanding issue in the Emory community. Last year, SGA deactivated their website after the Wheel’s Editorial Board brought its dysfunction to public attention, as students were unable to use the site to find their representatives. There is currently no reliable online resource to inform the community about SGA outside of CampusLabs, Emory’s new web platform for student organizations, which has not yet been updated to reflect this semester’s SGA. We hope that this year’s administration is more proactive in ensuring that all of their resources are fully up to date.
SGA must also provide updated versions of the organization’s governing documents online. Currently, students have access to none of SGA’s documents through their CampusLabs website. The most recent publicly-available version of the SGA constitution is available through the Wheel’s website. This reality can limit students’ ability to ensure that their representatives are following SGA’s own rules. Given former SGA President Dwight Ma’s (17Ox, 19C) frequent impeachable offenses last year, SGA should hold itself to a higher level of transparency.
Additionally, a newsletter to distribute basic information is the bare minimum we should expect from our student government. Even clubs with fewer resources and less manpower manage to do this task because they know that informing their members is the first step toward getting involved. An organization with the authority and the breadth of SGA must be able to effectively deliver this simple resource to students. Our student government can only be held accountable if we are aware of its actions.
To make itself more efficient and accountable, SGA could look to other campus organizations that are taking the initiative to deliver on their promises. For example, College Council has started to live stream their meetings to the Emory community as a means of transparency. It shouldn’t be difficult for SGA officials to run a program that their College Council peers have already successfully started.
If SGA wants an engaged electorate, they need to put forth their best effort in informing students and meeting the goals set forth in their campaign platforms. If they continue to fall short, the disconnect between Emory’s student body and student government will grow even greater. Now is the time for SGA to be held to account.
The Editorial Board is composed of Zach Ball, Jacob Busch, Andrew Kliewer, Boris Niyonzima, Shreya Pabbaraju and Kimia Tabatabaei. Kimia Tabatabaei is a sophomore legislator on College Council and recused herself from this piece.