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SGA meeting divided between two campuses

Conflict broke out at the Oct. 17 university-wide Student Government Association meeting, escalating the conflict from the previous meeting. At the Sept. 19 university-wide meeting, Decatur campus senators presented a bill that would rotate the location of the university-wide meetings through all the campuses, instead of the Atlanta campus serving as the sole host.

After the bill failed in the vote at the last meeting, senators from across all six campuses chose to participate in the protest or show of solidarity from the Alpharetta campus. Since the official meeting location was the Atlanta campus, the group called into the meeting via the Webex.

However, this decision resulted many of the participants off of the Atlanta campus not being able to vote.

Several members of the Atlanta Senate, including the Speaker of the Senate Kaelen Thomas, traveled to the Alpharetta campus for the meeting. However, SGA bylaws state that, aside from dual enrolled students, any university-wide senate members wishing to participate through Webex must notify the president 24 hours in advance and have the approval of their respective campus executive vice president.

At the previous meeting, the “location rotation” bill, if passed, would have mandated the rotation of the monthly university-wide senate meetings. However, it was voted down due to funding concerns. 

The lack of support from [the Atlanta] Senate stirred [Perimeter College] members to begin the rotation location without Atlanta,” De’mona Reid, the speaker of the Decatur senate, said in an email.

The email also stated that all “[Perimeter College] SGA members will be on the Alpharetta campus to support the Rotation Bill. The bill is currently under revision and will be reintroduced in the future. In the meantime, [Perimeter College] SGA members will rotate hosting a Web-Ex for the U-wide meetings, and this will continue until the bill is passed.”

Thomas said that his decision to go to the Alpharetta campus for the meeting was not a direct show of support for the “location rotation” bill. 

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I decided to go to Alpharetta because I wanted to understand what was going on on that campus,” he said. “Me going to Alpharetta was not a show of support for that bill.” 

However, Thomas did note that he thought the bill had merit. He also acknowledged that the current system, in which Perimeter senators often come to Atlanta for university-wide meetings, was likely to put a strain on Perimeter senators. 

According to Thomas, Webex, the program used to allow absent senators to participate in the meeting, contributes to miscommunication. 

“Something that came out of [me being in Alpharetta] was being able to realize the difficulties of Webex, especially when it comes to a U-wide meeting,” he said. “Most people don’t realize that there are delays in connection. There might be confusion if you may not have heard something correctly.” 

Thomas and Atlanta EVP Hamza Rahman both agreed that the professionalism of the Oct. 17 meeting was not up to par with what they expect from SGA members as student leaders. 

“I’ve never been to a U-wide meeting that has gone down in the way that that one did,” Thomas said. “I believe SGA, especially being student leaders, we’re supposed to be held to a higher standard, and I just don’t believe that standard was met at our last U-wide meeting.”

Rahman shared this sentiment as well, from the perspective of the members that remained on the Atlanta campus.

“[The professionalism of the meeting] was not up to par,” Rahman said. “Robert’s rules were almost completely disregarded by a lot of people and it just threw the meeting into chaos.”