The 53rd Student Government Association (SGA) elected SGA BBA Liaison Emily Ferguson (21B) on Monday night as its speaker of the legislature for the 2019-20 academic year. The new body, in its second meeting, also confirmed Sameer Kumar (19Ox, 21C) as vice president of alumni relations and Sam Branson (20C) as chief justice of the Constitutional Council.

Ferguson Elected Speaker

Ferguson ran against sophomore representative Mo Singhal (22C) for speaker. She received five votes, while Singhal received no votes and one voter abstained.

Legislators said that they thought that Singhal would be more effective as a legislator supplying ideas for initiatives rather than a speaker.

Ferguson said in her speech that she hopes to be a liaison between the executive board and the legislature, and between legislators and SGA advisers working on common initiatives. She also said she wants SGA to move from being a “reactive” government to a “proactive” one.

“I appreciate how Emily has more executive experience,” co-Vice President of Communications Karen Lee (21C) said. “As an executive member, I would appreciate someone who knows the system very well.”

Ferguson previously served as vice president for student experience in the 52nd SGA.

Branson Confirmed as Chief Justice

Branson was unanimously confirmed with six votes as chief justice of the Constitutional Council.  He served on Constitutional Council as an associate justice during the past academic year.

“I am really passionate about constitutional law, whether it comes to the U.S. Constitution or the SGA Constitution,” he said.

Former Chief Justice Matthew Ribel (19C) praised Branson for his performance on the Council.

“Sam is the intellectual backbone of the Constitutional Council, just someone on top it,” Ribel said. “I could not think of a better person for the job. He is the driving force behind every substantive decision we had to make.”

Kumar Confirmed as VP of Alumni Relations

The legislature unanimously confirmed Kumar with six votes to become vice president of alumni relations.

Kumar said his experience  on Oxford SGA, where he served as vice president, and the Student Alumni Board will inform his new role. The Student Alumni Board works closely with the Emory Alumni Association to develop programs for alumni and foster relationships between alumni and students.

Kumar, an Oxford continuee, said he needs to learn about how the Atlanta campus operates.

“I don’t think I have anything on the docket yet,” Kumar said. “But I can say that my ear is to the ground, and I am excited to figure out the different things that I want to work on.”

Governing Documents Committee

A bill to create a governing documents review committee underwent first readings and was passed unanimously by the legislature. The bill was co-sponsored by SGA President Ben Palmer (18Ox, 20C) and SGA Vice President Lori Steffel (21B).

“If you put even 30 seconds into reading the governing documents, you can tell that they are a complete mess,” Palmer said. “They do not reflect the GSGA-SGA split … they do not reflect any of the actual procedures and practices that we follow today. … They contradict each other constantly.”

Steffel said that the committee would not have the ability to change any language on its own. The committee will propose changes over the summer to bring before the legislature in the Fall.

A bill to create a governing documents review committee was passed by the 52nd SGA on Dec. 10, 2018. The bill had been sponsored by Steffel, then-sophomore representative and speaker of the legislature. The bill was introduced again because the committee is an ad-hoc committee, which must be re-approved each governing term.  

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Tanika Deuskar (22C) is from Bangalore, India. She intends to double major in Biology and Creative Writing. She loves jogging, listening to podcasts, and eating spicy food.