SGA Tables Elections Reform Bill

SGA Junior Representative Johnson Wang (20C, Center) discusses an initiative on Monday night that would allow students to print for free./ Khadeeja Shabbir, Contributing

The 52nd legislature of the Student Government Association (SGA) introduced on Monday night a bill that would audit undergraduate club participation and tabled a bill that would establish an SGA Elections Reform Committee. The legislature also discussed a proposal that would offer free printing to students.

The club participation bill, 52sl32, would audit undergraduate club participation and compare club participation between divisional councils. The Student Activities Fee (SAF) split would then be revised based on the audit findings, according to the bill.

The Wheel previously reported on a draft form of the bill, which was co-sponsored by SGA BBA Liaison Geoffrey Tseng (19B), SGA President Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C), College Council (CC) President Radhika Kadakia (20C) and BBA Council President Jay Krishnaswamy (16Ox, 19B). The new version of the bill is only sponsored by Tseng and Krishnaswamy.

The bill calls for the audit to begin on Sept. 31 and finish by Nov. 19.

SGA Executive Vice President John Priddy (19C) said he did not see any interest for the audit from divisional councils besides BBA Council, including Emory Student Nurses Association (ESNA), Oxford and CC.

“I would have liked to see all divisional councils coming together saying, ‘This is something we all want,’” Priddy said. “From [my perspective], it just looks like the Business School coming and saying this [is something they want],” Priddy said.

After concern over the constitutionality of the clause that would deduct 5 percent of a representative’s divisional council’s budget for missing audit meetings or deadlines, Krishnaswamy said he would remove the clause from the bill.

The bill also says that a club that fails to collect participation data would cause the club’s divisional council to cut 25 percent of that club’s funding in addition to “other potential penalties.”

SGA Chief of Staff Ben Palmer (18Ox, 20C), who supports a club participation audit, said he disagreed with threatening budget cuts to incentivize divisional councils to comply with the audit.

“I think that it’s really problematic that also we are talking about this and are pushing [these] very serious fines for not participating,” Palmer said. “Any kind of policy that has this kind of a modus operandi is not how it should be done.”

Senior Representative Owen Lynch (17Ox, 19C) also objected to the 25 percent penalty.

“If [an] Oxford Continuee [is passionate] about a certain club, and the next year, they have a club that like has [less than] 25 percent of the prior budget, I think [that’s] very punitive,” Lynch said. “We should try to tell [clubs] that it’s their job without having hundreds of dollars being taken out of their budget.”

The bill was in first readings and is scheduled to be voted on next week.

SGA also debated Bill 52sl27, which would establish an Elections Reform Commission. Palmer and Hicks presented the bill at SGA’s last meeting. The commission would “review the Elections Code and procedures in order to recommend amendments and best practices to the SGA Legislature,” according to the bill.

Sophomore Representative Zion Kidd (21C), who is against the bill, said the proposed commission is unnecessary and would duplicate responsibilities of the Elections Board.

Priddy responded by saying the Elections Board enforces the Code and the commission would suggest updates to the Code.

The bill was tabled.

During legislator reports, Junior Representative Johnson Wang (20C) said a group of students from the University of Chicago contacted him with an opportunity to provide free printing with advertisements to all Emory students. Wang did not propose a formal bill. Printing from a University printer costs 7 cents per single-sided sheet and 10 cents per double-sided sheet.

Wang said he discussed the printing software with Library and Information Technology Services (LITS), which said the program would be easy to implement and likely take a month to complete.

SGA Vice President of Diversity and Equity Maya Foster (17Ox, 19C) said free printing might be beneficial for students who cannot easily afford printing.

Some legislators expressed concern over how printing advertisements may be against Emory’s sustainability initiatives.

Wang said he would need to talk more to the group for more information about sustainability.

Tanika Deuskar contributed reporting.

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