The second legislature of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) convened Monday evening to discuss its attendance policy and the possibility of developing a partnership between Emory and campus dining delivery app Tapingo.
Candler School of Theology Legislator Byron Wratee (18T) proposed making attendance for legislators at GSGA ad hoc meetings optional. The GSGA Legislature shall meet at least once per calendar month during the academic year, according to GSGA’s Constitution, but GSGA has been having weekly meetings since the beginning of the academic year. Wratee said that mandatory weekly meetings with legislators from each graduate school are unsustainable and unnecessary, adding that the meetings were feeling more like responsibilities than opportunities for “joyful service.”
GSGA President Mark Neufeld (18B) disagreed with Wratee’s proposal for optional meetings.
“To make anything optional, from a government’s perspective, I think is just selling the position short and preventing a rich conversation,” Neufeld said. “At the end of the day, you don’t have to do this.”
Wratee responded that his presence was not vital to each meeting.
“I’m gum on the bottom of Adolf Hitler’s shoe,” Wratee said. “I don’t have to be here. This thing will keep running whether I’m here or not. But as long as someone from Candler is here … that’s enough.”
Wratee said that he felt current meeting requirements limited diversity in GSGA.
“I am the only black man in the room. … I’m bringing my blackness in the door and I’m handing it to y’all, for y’all to see it and believe it,” Wratee said. “If the culture changes, we will have more black people in here. Nobody’s going to sign up — I’m an exception. … This room is going to continue to look like this if you’re checking attendance at 8 [p.m.] and 9 [p.m.] on Mondays, every Monday. We’re not the type of people to do that. We’re a free people.”
Vice President of Finance Deepa Raju (18B) said it was important for legislators to attend meetings.
“When you’re not here, that’s a voice the student body does not have,” Raju said.
Candler School of Theology Legislator Elyse Cooke (20T) echoed Raju’s sentiments, emphasizing the importance of individual legislators in providing a voice for their schools.
“I don’t want you to feel like you’re not a voice here,” Cooke said to Wratee. “We are here because we want to share that voice, and I want you to feel like your voice is important. You are offering something. Everyone here is offering something. I value you.”
The legislature voted unanimously to refer the attendance policy to the governance committee and send a survey to GSGA members regarding meeting scheduling by next week.
Kylee Borger (19PH) presented a bill for GSGA to request that Emory partner with Tapingo, a mobile app that allows students to order food for delivery from campus dining locations. Both undergraduates and graduate students would be able to use the app to order food from Emory’s dining locations.
“It doesn’t cost anything for the University,” Borger said. “It’s a 30 to 40 cent convenience fee, passed on to the students. I think it would be something beneficial for us to pass and have Emory adopt this system in time for spring, so we can all order our food and coffee, and it’ll just be magical.”
Tapingo already has contracts with Emory dining vendors Bon Appetit and card processing company Heartland Payment Systems, which means that implementing Tapingo would take only about four weeks, according to Borger.
Sydney Kaplan (19L) moved to table the resolution and said that “it needs a little bit of retooling … reword some of this and come back next week.”
Legislators unanimously agreed to table the resolution until next week.
The Wheel requested Oct. 18 a vote by the GSGA legislature and the executive board to approve that any Wheel reporter could attend legislative meetings regardless of if they are undergraduate or graduate students. Only graduate students are permitted to attend GSGA legislative sessions, per the GSGA bylaws article 2 section 4. Executive Editor Michelle Lou and News Editor Richard Chess presented to the legislature Oct. 23, and Lou and Editor-in-Chief Julia Munslow presented to the GSGA executive board Oct. 25. Neufeld informed Lou Oct. 25 that both groups voted to allow Wheel reporters into weekly legislative sessions for the current administration.
UPDATE (11/12/17 at 4:33 p.m.): The article was updated to include information about the Wheel receiving approval from GSGA to report on its meetings.
Correction (11/14/17 at 1:26 p.m.): The article originally misstated that this was the first legislature of GSGA. The article has been updated to reflect that this is the second legislature.