Members of the Student Government Association (SGA) tabled a motion to create an ad hoc committee focused on restructuring the senate at Monday’s formal meeting.
The current senate is comprised of 30 voting positions, and 24 senate positions are based on residence. The other six include two graduate and four freshman positions.
Five members of the SGA executive board ran under the OneSRU ticket, which campaigned to research a possible restructure of SGA, during last semester’s elections. During elections, President Dallas Kline and Vice Presidents Logan Tupper (Finance), Nicole Dunlop (Internal Affairs), Kennedy Moore (Diversity and Inclusion) and Chad Burdick (Campus Outreach) were part of this ticket.
The proposed ad hoc committee would organize the executive’s board research and recommend plans to restructure the senate, a process the executive board expects to complete within one year. The proposed committee members include six senators and five executive board members: Kline, Tupper and Burdick as well as Elizabeth Hernandez, vice president of student and academic affairs, and Eric Lehman, parliamentarian.
Maggie Calvert, commuter senator, volunteered to chair the ad hoc committee to better represent groups on campus not primarily represented through SGA due to its residence-based organization.
“I wanted to chair the committee because my goals with it are to make sure that underrepresented groups or groups that feel that they don’t have a voice in SGA will feel like they have representatives and better representation,” Calvert said.
Currently, 22 students occupy senate positions—including Madison Cox, a freshman psychology, pre-occupational therapy major who was elected Building A senator Monday night. Eight senate positions are unfulfilled: one graduate, four commuter, Building B, Building E and North Hall.
Kline previously said that the most common senate structures are based on class standing and academic college. The majority of the senate declared a major within the College of Health, Environment and Science (13 senators and one E-board member) and the College of Liberal Arts (10 senators and two E-board members). The College of Business and College of Education are underrepresented within the senate with four and three students, respectively.
Matthew Lerman, graduate senator and a master’s student in student affairs in higher education, motioned to amend the original motion to make all executive board members on the ad hoc committee ex-officio members. This would mean that the five executive board members wouldn’t receive a vote, but would still have a voice on committee matters, according to Lerman.
“I think having five of out the 11, which is almost 50 percent, is a lot, especially being that our overall mission is to give the senate more power because they don’t understand their full power right now,” Lerman said.
Lerman also said that he wanted to hear the opinions of the senators on the committee, especially since the committee would be senate run.
“That’s why I made the motion to amend, so that way we could hear what [the senators] had to say, not necessarily approve it,” Lerman said. “’I’m personally in favor of the amendment, but I will also go with what the senate approves.
Calvert supports the executive board members receiving a vote since they ran under that commitment during their election campaign. She also said that “one person, one vote” would help all committee members have their voices heard without added influence from the executive board.
“I think that one person, one vote is the best way to ensure that nobody is dominating conversation or having more influence than they should,” Calvert said.
Lerman’s motion to make the executive board ex-officio members failed with 10 yeas, 11 nays and three abstentions. After his initial motion failed, Lerman motioned to tabled the creation of the ad hoc committee until the next formal meeting, which passed with 5 nays.
Following the informal meeting, Lerman mentioned that some senators were confused by his proposed ex-officio amendment and the senator-run nature of the ad hoc committee.
“I think if we are able to bring this then to an informal meeting to have that more open discussion and not follow Robert’s Rules, it will allow us to get a better understanding to then bring it to next meeting and then be able to actually fully discuss it and speak our minds on it,” Lerman said.
Calvert voted against tabling the motion, but said she supported tabling and having a thorough look at the committee at the next informal meeting.
“I think it’s good that we want to be as thorough as possible,” Calvert said.
The senate will discuss the ad hoc committee at their informal meeting on Nov. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Student Center room 323.
Also at Monday night’s SGA formal meeting, the senate approved $11,995.76 in new initiative requests. These requests will support Club Tennis ($321.76), Intramural Sports ($7,920), Club Lacrosse ($3,622) and Triathlon Club ($132).
Parliamentarian Eric Lehman updated senators on Paws of the Rock, an organization that did not earn SGA recognition at the previous formal meeting. The rules and policies committee decided to not send Paws of the Rock back to the senate for approval.
“We decided that, due to liability reasons, all the work that they would have to put in themselves and the risk that SRSGA would be at, we felt that we could not send it back to senate for recommendation of approval,” Lehman said.
SGA’s final formal meeting of the semester will be on Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Student Center Theatre.