The 52nd Student Government Association (SGA) convened Monday night to vote against a bill that sought to reduce Student Activity Fee (SAF) funding for College Council (CC) and increase funding for BBA Council and Emory Student Nurses Association (ESNA).
SGA Rejects Modifying SAF Split
The legislature rejected Bill 52sl38, which aimed to change the SAF split for divisional councils, with seven votes for, six against and one abstention. The bill would have implemented the audit committee’s recommendation to reduce Goizueta Business School students’ contribution to CC from 14 percent to three percent and Nursing school students’ contribution to CC be reduced from 10 percent to four percent. The bill needed two consecutive two-thirds majority to pass, according to SGA Attorney General Kaia Ordal (17Ox, 19C).
The bill was first introduced last week by SGA BBA Liason Geoffrey Tseng (19B) and BBA Council President Jay Krishnaswamy (16Ox, 19B). On Monday night, Tseng said the bill was supported by the entire BBA Council executive board and ESNA executive board.
Because the SGA Constitution does not specify how issues of significance should be voted on, Ordal ruled that SGA would follow the precedent set by the 51st SGA when they amended the Finance Code after the SGA split in autonomous graduate and undergraduate bodies. The 51st SGA passed the bill with a two-thirds majority in two consecutive meetings and a simple majority from the SGA Finance Committee, but did not call for an undergraduate-wide referendum.
“This is the best information that we have to go off of on how to address this bill,” SGA Speaker of the Legislature and Sophomore Representative Lori Steffel (21C) said.
Tseng told the Wheel that he was disappointed in the bill’s rejection.
“I am disappointed that the SGA Legislators did not even allow the legislation to go to a second vote,” Tseng wrote in an email to the Wheel. “I feel that we addressed every concern presented to us both fully and transparently.”
College Council and Oxford SGA Express Concerns
CC Vice President Hemal Prasad (19C) voiced CC’s concerns with the bill, calling it a “rushed” process.
“I just want to reiterate, this bill does not need to be passed before Dec. 15. Turnover is not the reason to rush this process,” Prasad said. “A thorough process is going to be more beneficial than a rushed one.”
CC denounced the bill in a Dec. 3 email to students, saying the audit does not reflect the “disparity” between increased club activity in the Spring in comparison to Fall activity.
Prasad added that one month was not enough time for the audit committee to gather all of the data necessary to complete a full report of clubs’ financial situations. Krishnaswamy had repeatedly urged legislators to approve the bill before Dec. 31, the deadline to modify the next administration’s Fee Split, per the Finance Code.
“We recognize that BBA … [wished] to get this done by Dec. 15, [but] we didn’t believe that would be an adequate time frame,” Prasad said. “We still don’t believe that.”
Oxford SGA President Liam Dewey (19Ox), who served as a proxy for Oxford SGA’s Oxford-Emory liaison, suggested that the audit committee had been manipulated by students who wanted increased funding for their divisional councils.
“You can compare this to redistricting and gerrymandering in our country. The people who have a vested interest in the fee split are running the commission that is going to recommend the fee split rules,” Dewey said. He ultimately voted in favor of the bill.
After the meeting, Dewey said Oxford is neutral toward the audit and decided to give one vote in favor and one against the bill.
“I personally have problems with the bill, but I agree with it in theory,” Dewey said. “I was acting as a conduit for the voice of Oxford and … we decided that we should split the vote, giving one vote to the students who benefitted and one to the students who would not have.”
ESNA Disagrees Over Bill
ESNA Representative Laura Franco (19N) told the Wheel that none of the ESNA representatives were informed of their executive board’s decision to support the bill before the Monday SGA meeting.
Both Franco and ESNA Representative Mary Claire Connelly (19N) voted against the bill, while ESNA Representative Charles Chen (20N) voted in favor of the bill.
Franco said Chen told her that he voted for the bill because he wanted to hear more discussion on it.
Franco explained that while she is not opposed to an audit, she is opposed to the audit committee’s methodology.
“I agree that you need some data around this — we need to allocate our funds correctly,” Franco said, but added that she had reservations about the short time frame in which the audit committee would gather data that would determine the allocation of funds in the future.
Franco voiced disapproval over the ESNA executive board’s support of the bill.
“For exec board members to kind of agree that this process was probably not the best, but then sponsor a bill because it benefits Nursing did not sit well with me,” Franco said.
SGA Finance Committee Votes
The SGA Finance Committee met on Dec. 2 to vote on the SAF split bill and rejected the bill, with seven votes in favor and seven against. The Finance Committee must vote on the bill because it is an inherent issue of finance, according to Ordal.
However, not all presidents of executive agencies were notified of the Dec. 2 vote properly and therefore could not be in attendance, according to Ordal. This led to some members submitting votes electronically. In addition, the president of Table Talks was not invited, Ordal wrote in a Dec. 2 email obtained by the Wheel.
SGA Vice President of Finance Paul Park (17Ox, 19B) agreed with Ordal’s belief that not all members of the Financial Committee were properly informed and nullified the results of the election.
Park also voiced his disapproval of the bill to reallocate the SAF during the meeting, saying that any bill that would cut CC funding would negatively impact “many of our friends and many of our colleagues.”
“In regards to College Council, just knowing their situation, they would be out of money in two years with the current state — taking money from them will worsen their standpoint,” Park said.
Bill Would Reintroduce Joint Candidacy
SGA unanimously approved Bill 52sl37, which would reintroduce joint candidacy in SGA presidential and vice presidential elections.
The bill has undergone a modification since Nov. 12, as it now gives candidates the option to either run alone or with a running mate on a joint ticket.
The bill was proposed by SGA Sophomore Representative Zion Kidd (21C), Oxford Continuee Representative Dezmon Scott (17Ox, 19C) and Senior Legislator Owen Lynch (17Ox, 19C).
Because the bill would amend the Code of Elections, it requires a simple majority of the legislature to pass.
Correction (12/5/18 at 1 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated that the joint candidacy bill would amend the SGA Constitution and require a referendum vote. In fact, it amends the Code of Elections and only requires a majority of the legislature.