Photo and story by Hannah Adams / Contributing Writer
The Student Government Association met for their weekly meeting Thursday in the Parliamentary Room in the Student Union Building to discuss new and recurring bills and resolutions. However, this was not a meeting where resolutions were put to a vote to pass. Instead, all pieces of legislation were simply debated by members.
The first bill brought up was “Bill 1-18-S,” or “A Bill to Move an Amended SGA Oath to the Senate By-Laws,” sponsored by Sen. Kobe Hermann. The bill was brought up in last week’s meeting as a tentative bill and had to move through another round of motions to be approved.
Even though the oath applies to all SGA members, the placement is currently just under the executive branch section. Hermann explained last week that by reciting the oath “en masse,” it often leads to confusion while reciting official titles. Therefore, he moved that Article IV, Section 9 be removed from the SGA constitution and stated that a new article should be added in the Senate bylaws, which would be titled “Article V, Oath of Office.”
The new article would read:
“Section 1: It is the duty of the Senate to ensure that all elected and appointed SGA officials, including Executive Branch Board members, the Executive Cabinet, Senators, Elections Commissioners, Student Judicial Board members and Freshman Council members take and subscribe this oath: ‘I do solemnly affirm that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Student Government Association of Middle Tennessee State University, and I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of which I am about to enter.”
No changes were made to the bill from last week’s meeting.
Next up was “Tentative Bill 2-18-S,” or “A Bill to Amend the SGA constitution,” which was sponsored by Sen. Jonathan Cieka and Sen. Abbi Thompson. The goal of SGA is to communicate effectively with the student body, and the constitution is “disorganized and difficult to read,” according to Cieka. Therefore, the proposal was to amend the document to better organize it with correct and consistent numbering and change some of the language to make it a little more concise. The biggest change was where information was and how it was formatted.
“It doesn’t change the function of anything,” Cieka said. “It just changes how we reference it.”
The only suggestion was that Senate members look through the amended document to double check for any spelling or other grammatical errors.
The next legislation was “Tentative Bill 3-18-S,” which would allow SGA to serve as the official liaison between the student body administration and was sponsored by Sen. Bre’Yhana Johnson. This bill was created due to students either not knowing anything about SGA or believing that SGA is “ineffective.” The vice president of marketing, as stated in the SGA constitution, may appoint a member as the legislative liaison from within the Senate to serve on the public relations committee. This liaison would be responsible for advocating SGA to the student body, which would include posting short videos on their official social media platforms.
“I know that we’re a really great organization, and we do so much on campus,” Johnson said. “But I oftentimes hear people saying, ‘Oh, I didn’t know we had a student government’ or ‘Well, you guys can’t fix parking or Aramark, so there’s nothing you can do for me.’ I just want to be able to better advertise. Especially as a public relations major, I know how important branding is. Our brand is to show students that we are really striving to make an impact and that we do care about the student body.”
The position has existed in the constitution but has never been put into effect, and Johnson proposed that by bringing power to the liaison, it might take some of the workload off of the public relations committee.
Sen. Samantha Eisenburg had positive things to say about the legislation, expressing that she believed it would be a very good bill to pass so that nothing could be misinterpreted about SGA.
“A lot of times, don’t get me wrong, Sidelines used to come in here, and a lot of times things would get misinterpreted,” Eisenburg said. “And, our legislation would be kind of twisted around, or they would take our debate and say it was something that it was not. And, we were always having to go back and kind of correct that. Once it’s already out there, it’s out there, and there’s gonna be misconception regardless. This gives us the power to say here’s what’s happening in SGA without any room for misinterpretation.”
Next was “Tentative Bill 4-18-S,” or “A Bill to Set Limits for Senators, the Executive Board and the Judicial Branch Members of the Student Government Association of MTSU,” sponsored by Sen. Freya Cartwright and Sen. Emily Lupo.
The bill’s main goal is to gain a “high turnover rate” by limiting a senator’s term to two years and give other students a chance to either move up in SGA or become a senator. It also would not distinguish between an undergraduate student or a student going to MTSU for a graduate program. Once a two-year term is served, that would be the end of it.
The biggest concern was that by limiting the term to two years, there could be the fear of potential disinterest for students who would otherwise apply for SGA.
Cartwright suggested that because of the limit, the members whose term was beginning to end would be more determined and likely to “spread the word” and promote SGA for new potential members to apply.
The next legislation was “Resolution 10-18-S,” or “A Resolution to Promote Campus Beautification,” sponsored by Freshman Council member Gabriella Morin. This resolution would be in celebration of Earth Day, which is April 22. On the Saturday before Earth Day, SGA would work with the student body to clean up three areas on campus: Walnut Grove, the Walker Library and the field and parking lots in front of Student Union Building. Participants would receive two volunteer hours.
One concern regarding the resolution was whether or not this would keep the regular groundskeepers on campus out of work for the day without pay. Executive Vice President Monica Haun assured that the groundskeepers would still be working but not in those three locations that day.
“Tentative Resolution 11-18-S,” or “Student Nursing Graduation Recognition,” was the next legislation brought up. Sponsored by Sen. Delanie McDonald, this resolution pertained to the nursing program in determining summa, magna and cum laude awards.
The nursing program’s grading scale differs from most college programs, with the final letter grades being held at a higher standard. For instance, what could determine a B in a different program would be an A in nursing, and anything below 73 percent is a failing grade.
The resolution is not to change this grading scale but rather to have the percentages recognized at graduation ceremonies so students can receive their awards. If the motion passes, this resolution would go into effect for the following graduation ceremony.
Sponsored by Hermann, the next piece of legislation was “Tentative Resolution 12-18-S,” or “A Resolution to Amend MTSU Policy 500 in Order to Protect the Identities of Students.” MTSU Policy 500, Section C, states that some student information, such as name, phone number, email and address, have potential to be released without consent of the student. Because of this, scam emails are being sent out to students with links designed to steal the student’s identity.
Hermann proposed that Section C be deleted from Policy 500 entirely. The only question was if MTSU was making money off of Section C and, therefore, the scams, which Hermann assured was not the case.
The last three pieces of legislation of the evening were all sponsored by Sen. Seth Harrell.
The first, “Resolution 13-18-S,” or “A Resolution Regarding Financial Aid Loss After a Grade Appeal,” dealt with students losing their scholarships or aid due to an unfair grade. In this case, if a grade appeal was corrected and the student’s GPA was brought back to the minimum requirement to receive aid, they had already lost the aid, and the student would then be stuck with paying tuition. The best case scenario would be that they would get their aid back but perhaps not in time for the payment deadline. Therefore, Harrell proposed that the university be held responsible for paying the student’s fees.
Sen. Slatton suggested to just make sure where the money would be coming from within the university, and another Senate member suggested that the department that administered the incorrect grade be held responsible for the student’s bill.
“Resolution 14-18-S,” or “A Resolution Regarding Subcommittees for Grade Appeals,” dealt with the hearings for a grade appeal. Harrell felt that it was unfair and unbalanced that there are often more faculty members present at the hearings than students. He proposed that there be a mandatory even number of faculty and staff.
While most the Senate agreed with this testament, they cautioned on the accessibility of students being able to attend these hearings due to classes. A few of the Senate members agreed that, on occasion, they would miss a class to go to the hearings. Other members were concerned that by the refusal to have a hearing if the numbers were not even, it would only push off a student’s grade appeal.
There were a few suggestions on how to handle this situation, such as cutting out some faculty members to have more students or creating a minimum of students to attend, but no final decision was made.
The final resolution of the evening was “Resolution 15—18-S,” or “A Resolution to Commemorate SGA Senators.” There are currently bricks placed on the lawn of the Student Union Commons with the names of prominent senators on them. There are larger bricks to commemorate SGA officers and smaller ones for senators. Harrell proposed that any member of SGA have the opportunity to put their name on a brick with a tentative purchase of no more than $40.
However, some member pointed out inconsistencies between the prices Harrell listed. He listed the engraving as being less than $20. However, he later stated the brick and installment be no more than $40. The suggestion was that there should be some research done on the definite price of the bricks and installation, as most members were not interested in paying more than $100.
The other concern was how to distinguish who got the honor of having their own brick. Senate members asked if would it be members who went out of their way to contribute to the organization or if it would be anybody who attended meetings.
A final decision was not made, and the meeting was adjourned.
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