SGA Casts Informal Votes on Proposed Gov. Structure

The Student Government Association (SGA) convened Feb. 6 to discuss the proposed undergraduate governing structure and confirm one SGA senior representative and one College-wide representative. It was SGA’s first meeting since a University-wide referendum passed, splitting the student government into two autonomous branches: the undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) and Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA).

SGA College-wide Representative and College junior William Palmer proposed a revised student government structure based on feedback from last Monday’s meeting. The new undergraduate governing structure will be implemented by the end of February before the start of SGA election season, Palmer said. In a SGA roundtable, legislators cast informal votes on sections of Palmer’s proposal to gauge opinions on the draft, but no part of the proposal has been formally approved or rejected.

Palmer proposed that SGA meet every other week unless further discussion of bills or issues is necessary after the new government structure is finalized and elections are over. Palmer proposed the change from weekly meetings in anticipation of SGA having less work. He cited the presence of fewer legislators on SGA and the occasional cancellation of previous SGA meetings because few bills were on the table.

Palmer also introduced the new Joint Governance Committee (JGC), which allows SGA and GSGA executive board representatives to meet weekly to discuss matters of University-wide importance. The SGA president, executive vice president, speaker of the legislature and vice president of finance will sit on the JGC for SGA.

SGA College Sophomore Representative Brady Goodman-Williams proposed adding a secretary to the JGC for recordkeeping purposes. Legislators voted informally in favor of Goodman-Williams’ proposal. Legislators also voted informally against Diversity and Equity Committee member and College sophomore Ruben Diaz Vasquez’s proposal to add the vice president of diversity and equity to the JGC.

Legislators also voted informally in favor of Zoberman’s proposal to remove the vice president of programming from the Executive Board because the position also currently functions as the Student Programming Council (SPC) president. The SGA executive structure would also exclude the vice president of student experience because the position is not in the SGA Constitution.

The government structure must be finalized by Feb. 20, when the SGA Board of Elections will begin holding information sessions for candidates running for SGA. SGA President and College senior Max Zoberman urged SGA to be “as diligent as humanly possible … to make sure this government can stand on its legs after [Feb. 20].”

Zoberman proposed creating three new councils: a Recreation and Wellness Council, a Service Council and an Arts Council. Those councils would function similarly to divisional councils, acting as proprietary councils that organize, fund and represent organizations sharing a similar mission. A representative from each of the three councils would sit on SGA and advocate for their respective organizations, bringing the total number of SGA legislators to 18 instead of the initially proposed 15.

According to Zoberman, some organizations don’t meet the charter requirements of any divisional council or office, nor do they fall under the University-wide Organization (UWO) designation. Consequently, those organizations struggle to obtain funding and reserve spaces, he said. The proposed councils would provide charters for those organizations and create their own finance codes, Zoberman said.

Zoberman encouraged legislators to take advantage of this transition period by initiating changes.

“We are operating right now in a once-in-an-era opportunity to make changes like [these councils], and if it’s possible to, I would hate to see that opportunity come and go without any action being taken,” Zoberman said.

Palmer disagreed with Zoberman, cautioning legislators avoid hasty decisions.

“We’re occupying an awkward constitutional realm right now, and we don’t want to come under fire for moving too fast,” Palmer said.

SGA Executive Vice President and Goizueta Business junior Gurbani Singh echoed Palmer’s sentiments, warning that change requires thought and does not need to be implemented immediately.

“While we think that this is the end-all-be-all time to make change, I really don’t agree,” Singh said. “I believe that you guys want to make change, but it’s not just right now or this year.”

Bills 50sl22 and 50sl23 were passed unanimously to induct College senior Caitlyn Winders as SGA Senior Representative and College sophomore Rohan Dhamsania as a SGA College-Wide Representative.