After holding its first university-wide meeting of the spring semester on Jan. 23, SGA is on its way to making historical changes.
Several Perimeter campus senators gathered in the Dunwoody campus and attended the SGA meeting via WebEx once again — something that occurred during multiple meetings last semester in response to several pieces of legislation pertaining to Perimeter campus senators’ roles in the university-wide Senate.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. However, some officials experienced technical difficulties with WebEx until the meeting officially began at 7:45 p.m.
Making History with U.S. Election Season Preparations
Thursday evening, SGA Communications Director Evan Malbrough, who has since left his position, announced that Georgia State officially has a polling location on campus.
The polling location will be in the Student Center East Ballroom from March 8-10. The polling location will be staffed by Georgia State students, making it the first student-run polling location on a college campus in American history, according to Malbrough.
Spencer DeHart, head senator of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and Safety Committee chair, introduced a bill that could cancel classes on Election Day and allow Georgia State to make up the day during the final week of classes.
“Current Board of Regents of the State of Georgia policy allows students an excused absence from school for the purpose of voting,” DeHart said. “We sent a message last night [Jan. 23] that this is not enough.”
The policy resolution passed with overwhelming support. The policy doesn’t include canceling class for the primary election, only for the general election in the fall.
“For the policy to be implemented, it must go through the University Senate and sent to the Board of Regents,” DeHart said.
A Constitutional Amendment
A large portion of the meeting was dedicated to discussing placing a constitutional amendment on the spring election ballot that would allow SGA meetings to be viewed through a livestream.
Ashrakat Hassan, senator for academic affairs at the Clarkston campus, introduced the bill.
“Livestreaming and recording our SGA meetings will provide an opportunity for the students to come to us,” Hassan said. “Don’t feel comfortable in that they’re not in the room — feel uncomfortable that no one is there to check in on your promises and the missions that you made during your campaign.”
Opposing the bill, Malbrough found it nonessential.
“We do take minutes, yes, and then we do have the WebEx recordings,” Malbrough said.
Malbrough also brought attention to the student media organizations that cover the meetings.
“The Signal is always present, and we are grateful for that, but the media controls the narrative in a lot of countries, especially our own,” Hassan responded to Malbrough. “The students need to have a first-row seat to the action so they can make their own interpretations.”
According to Hassan, The Signal’s content on the Clarkston campus is limited and doesn’t include SGA coverage.
However, this is incorrect according to email records. In December, a staff member of The Signal did reach out to Clarkston Sen. Amiri Banks and Clarkston Executive Vice President Yasmin Henry requesting SGA meeting dates and times, but did not receive a response.
Sen. Terry Fye, the bylaws chair, informed the meeting attendees of the importance of changing the bill to bylaws instead of the constitution.
“This is not appropriate for our constitutional change; it is actually a bylaws change,” Fye said.
Fye motioned to refer the amendment to the bylaws committee and the vote passed.
The meeting experienced audio problems, which forced senators to stop and repeat their statements closer to the mic. These interruptions caused a ripple effect in motions to extend the discussion after time ran out.
“Boyd, clearly we can’t hear,” one senator said via WebEx, referring to SGA Advisor and Senior Director of the Student Center Boyd Beckwith.
Jazmin Mejia, SGA university-wide president, asked the senators on Dunwoody campus to remain unmuted in order to gather an accurate transcript of the meeting for the students.
Chair of the GILEE Committee, DeHart, announced the committee’s need for members in order to do work. DeHart believes the lack of membership and interest is caused by a lack of knowledge of GILEE, the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange.
The committee was created to research the GILEE program after intense debate last semester in SGA in response to an investigation by The Signal.
“I hope to be able to form the committee in the coming weeks and be able to deliver a final report at the University-Wide Senate meeting in April,” DeHart said.
Tyson Stokes, senator from the Downtown campus, introduced a bill that would allow endorsements from retiring SGA members.
When asked by Sen. Kalil Garrett to clarify the meaning of “retired members” in the bill’s context, Stokes — who introduced the bill — replied, “I’m just reading the screen. I don’t know anything.”
When asked for further clarification through email, Stokes said that he did not “have any relevant words of insight or clarification to help your cause.”
“While I was present and rather vocal at the meeting,” he continued, “I can spare no further words on the matter in an effort to avoid complicating matters, confusing recipients or being misconstrued.”
Perimeter Focused Legislation
Fye introduced a bill that would seat senators to the Perimeter College standing committee. Only Perimeter senators were allowed to vote on this bill.
According to the bill, “This committee shall be responsible for the planning and execution of several college-wide initiatives and issues that affect Perimeter College students college-wide.”
McIver re-introduced a location rotation bill — a continued debate throughout this administration.
This bill would allow SGA university-wide meetings to rotate through the different campuses alphabetically. This rotation excludes Alpharetta and Newton, as they would host university-wide retreats.
Senate members will only be allowed to attend a meeting via WebEx for a “legitimate reason.”
According to Fye, an option for transportation would allow the Atlanta Senate to use two student center vans to travel to each campus for the off-campus meetings.
DeHart also introduced a university-wide bill that amends the quorum. The updated quorum would require a presence of 51% of Atlanta senators and 51% of Perimeter senators in order to vote on legislation.
“This allows us to make sure that the voices and opinions of students on the Perimeter campuses are heard, while also adhering to the democratic principle of equal representation,” DeHart said.
This bill amends the original bylaw that required the presence of 51% of all senators (no matter the campus) in order to vote on legislation.
At 10:49 p.m., a few senators began to argue about ending the meeting early due to the building closing at 11 p.m. Half of the Perimeter presence was gone by the end of the meeting.
“If legislation is sent to me in time so that I can send it out with an email, then all of you should be reading the emails, so we can come to these meetings with information, already have comments and concerns written out, so we are not here for three hours just talking about what we don’t know about the bill that we should’ve already read.” Mejia said.
Last semester, four university-wide meetings were scheduled, but at this time, there are only two scheduled for the spring. Several senators raised concerns that any legislation not passed at this first meeting would essentially be irrelevant for the rest of the administration, since the next meeting won’t take place until the end of the semester.
At the moment, Mejia said she has no intention of scheduling a special university-wide Senate meeting before the next SGA election.