Legislators Deem Student Concerns Committee Bill Unfit As Is

The 51st legislature of the Student Government Association (SGA) convened Monday evening to discuss a bill that would create an Emory Student Concerns Committee. During the first reading of the bill, legislators cited the need for additional clarity about the potential committee.

Bill 51sl22 called for the formation of the Emory Student Concerns Committee, which would regularly convene campus leaders and concerned students to discuss issues that can be addressed by SGA.

SGA recommended that the bill should be worked, revised and reproposed at a later meeting. 

Chief of Staff Mario Karras (17Ox, 19B) presented the bill, which was submitted by Karras, Vice President of Student Experience Daniella Moreno-Kaste (19C), Freshman Representative Austin Graham (21C) and Freshman Representative Alice Bodge (21C).

“This is a short bill to create a standing committee, and there are a lot of open questions,” Speaker of the Legislature and Senior Representative William Palmer (18C) said. “We [need] to get a better idea of what this is going to be and then solidify that. I have a lot of questions still about the makeup of the committee.”

In response to Palmer’s concerns, Graham said that the committee would determine the most effective structure for itself.

“Initially, it wouldn’t have been a standing committee. It would’ve been kind of experimental,” Graham said. “And so we form the committee, and then we’d let the committee structure itself. Once we figure out a structure that works best for this sort of public forum committee, that then we submit more detailed legislation to make it a standing committee that includes structure and bylaws for the committee specific issues.”

Graham added that the committee would be a representative sample of students who would be responsible for formulating solutions to a wide variety of campus issues.

“If we had something that was brought up to us by the administration, by Campus Life or by other members of the legislature, we would take [those problems] to them and they, as a representative sample of the University students, would be able to help us formulate solutions that are agreeable to all students across the academic divisions,” Graham said.

Karras explained that students who are interested in pursuing a position in SGA would be incentivized to get involved by participating in the committee.

“It’s a way for you to get involved with SGA without being officially on SGA,” Karras said. “Let’s say you want to run the year after, you can say, ‘Hey, well I have experience. I have made change on campus, and I wasn’t even that officially involved in student government.’ “

Bodge said she understood why the legislature did not move to vote on the bill.

“We put it together kind of quickly,” Bodge told the Wheel. “I think that it was more productive to come in and present it to SGA and hear what everyone thought of it, rather than just … vote on it.”

University Registrar JoAnn McKenzie presented to SGA and asked SGA for assistance in forming an advisory board to discuss meaningful initiatives the Office of the University Registrar could take to improve student life. McKenzie said Emory is looking into reevaluating the Online Pathway to University Students (OPUS), which Emory has used for 15 years.

“We currently are looking into a registration tool right now, and I’d love to form a group of students to come and take a look at this tool and tell us, ‘Is this the right thing for you? Is this not what you need?’ so that we quit buying things that you don’t find useful,” McKenzie said.

Three vendors are coming to campus to present their different systems that could improve or replace OPUS as the registration system for Fall 2018. Members of the advisory board would help decide which system would be best for the student body.

Palmer reported on working to create a fund that would support the Emory Emergency Medical Services (EEMS) volunteers, who pay around $2,300 for training and uniforms. Palmer is currently working with the EEMS leaders and said he will present a bill on the issue in an upcoming SGA meeting.

CORRECTION (Oct. 23 at 2:13 p.m.): Palmer was misidentified as speaker of the house. He is the speaker of the legislature.

CORRECTION (Oct. 23 at 3:58 p.m.): The article and headline was updated to reflect that legislature was not scheduled to vote on the bill.