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Georgia State’s SGA Senate was ill-prepared to discuss big governing docs

A senator looks on his phone prior to discussions beginning at the SGA's Nov. 5th meeting. Photo by Jason Luong | The Signal
A senator looks on his phone prior to discussions beginning at the SGA's Nov. 5th meeting. Photo by Jason Luong | The Signal
A senator looks on his phone prior to discussions beginning at the SGA’s Nov. 5th meeting.
Photo by Jason Luong | The Signal

Despite pressure from the Student Government Association’s executive board to be well-read on their newly-tweaked constitution, SGA senators were largely unprepared to discuss the document’s potential changes at the Nov. 5 Senate meeting.

At an Oct. 27 executive board meeting SGA’s VP of Academic Affairs David Jackson emphasized the importance of knowing what’s being altered in the student government’s guiding documents, its constitution and bylaws, while they’re amended for the GSU-GPC consolidation.

“We need to tell [the Senate], if they don’t take anything else seriously this year, this is one of the most important matters right now,” he said. “Take it very seriously; don’t sleep on this.”

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They slept on it. Of the 19-senator quorum in attendance during the Nov. 5 meeting, roughly three were educated enough on the constitution to remark on its changes. SGA Sen. Justin Brightharp claimed they weren’t given enough time to read it over.

“It does seem that there’s a consensus that we didn’t have enough time,” he said.

Brightharp motioned for a three-minute recess to skim the 14-page document for discrepancies. Once the Senate reconvened, they proved no better versed on the subject matter and motioned to table the discussion until the next Senate meeting on Nov. 19.

“If we do have this opportunity to take this seriously, you have until Saturday to write your recommendations,” he said.

Among other senate issues SGA needs to address, — at least six senators are being cited for missing meetings — Jackson said, this lapse in preparedness is unacceptable.

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“The phone stuff is not that serious to me,” he said of some distracted SGA members. “But to come to this meeting completely unaware of what we’re gonna discuss is utterly disappointing.”

President Sebastian Parra addresses the SGA at their Nov. 5th, 2015 convening Photo by Jason Luong | The Signal
President Sebastian Parra addresses the SGA at their Nov. 5th, 2015 convening
Photo by Jason Luong | The Signal

Student Center Director Boyd Beckwith said the time extension should grant SGA senators enough leeway “so they can actually review the [docs] in advance.”

But SGA’s Executive Vice President Teara Mayfield warned the Senate that they’d have to show up next time fully equipped to discuss and debate both governing documents — not just the constitution anymore.

“Please be mindful that you are gonna be in another long meeting that you guys need to be alert and ready for,” she said.

At Thursday’s meeting SGA Sen. Corey Gray suggested an email thread for senators to discuss the documents. But when Gray said refraining from sending an email response just means you don’t have anything to say, Jackson said he realized that ambiguity could leave room for further neglect.

“We’re actually going to require each senator to provide at least two comments on the constitution,” he told The Signal after the meeting.

Beckwith said recommendations for constitutional and bylaws amendments are due from Georgia State’s SGA and each GPC campus’ SGA by Nov. 13.