The Student Government Association (SGA) passed bills detailing changes in the Judiciary as a part of the new draft constitution, the possibility of a Chick-fil-A ban on campus and the establishment of a club at its meeting on Tuesday evening.
Members of the Judiciary Board came to the meeting to discuss changes to the Judiciary in the new draft constitution. Article V in the Judiciary constitution subjects the justices to an appeals process on their judgements. However, Judiciary Board Justice Tom Roesser said in the Board’s prepared statement that the Judiciary should not be subjected to the whims of student opinion.
“Public opinion can be as fluid as it is powerful,” he said, quoting Tocqueville. “To have a Judiciary subject to referendum is like having no judiciary at all.”
Though initially hesitant, Executive President Janice Bonsu voiced her support for the Judiciary’s proposal.
“There is room for flaws, and we’re not all going to be perfect in our decisions. We’re not parallel to the U.S. government and Judiciary,” Bonsu said.
Bonsu referenced the Voice for Life (VFL) controversy from last year’s SGA, in which the SGA, through the Student Activities Committee, approved club status and funding for VFL, the pro-life group on campus.
“I’m now thinking that two years ago when VFL came, there were a lot of students who would have come and said ‘no’ [to the approval],” Bonsu said.
Justice Dylan Cowit stated that the student body may not have the necessary constitutional knowledge to make the correct decision in a referendum.
“As SGA we need to prevent discrimination, even if that student group is unpopular. To open up a constitution to the student referendum, that’s even more alarming,” Cowit said.
The compromise solution created an avenue of review that would require 15 percent of the undergraduate student body’s approval to “revisit” the topic in question. The wording was changed from “appeal” to “revisit,” granting the Judiciary the final say with its judgements.
Another change with the new constitution is the lengthening of judicial terms from one year to the justice’s entire remaining undergraduate career. The vote on the new constitution will happen next week, according to Bonsu.
A bill that banned any future Chick-fil-A on campus was passed unanimously during the meeting. Chick-fil-A has become controversial in recent years because of public homophobic comments from the company’s chief executive officer and the company’s investment in homophobic initiatives. Members of the SGA were concerned that members of the LBGTQ community could suffer from discrimination.
“By passing this, we’re taking a huge stance as an SGA and as a community,” Junior Class Senator Jason Plush said.
A bill that funds massage chairs in Levering, sponsored by Freshman Class Senator Sarah Zappone, was passed unanimously as well. The SGA will be responsible for the maintenance of the chairs, and they will be available for student use soon.
Members of the SGA also addressed the issue of low voter turnout during the Executive Board election, citing lack of publicity and advertising for the election and the debate.
Sophomore Class Senator Jonathan “JB” Brown proposed that there should be physical polling stations on the Keyser Quad during the election window, as these would allow for easy and expedient voting and would increase voter turnout.
“I think doing that for three or four days during voting period would be beneficial,” Brown said.
Plush, who is also the Executive President-elect, suggested that there should be a minimum 15 percent voter turnout to validate the election. The entire SGA was in agreement that a voting threshold was necessary to combat student apathy. This year’s election turnout was 8.6 percent.
“At the root level, it’s apathy. The elections are a time to shine,” Dickey said.
At the end of the meeting, Freshman Class Senator Kwame Brown proposed that feminine products and condoms should be provided for free or at a reduced price in the MSE and BLC bathrooms.
Another bill passed during the meeting provided funding to the PUSH, an annual event that raises money for the United Services Organization, an organization that supports U.S. soldiers and their families. Last year the PUSH raised approximately $10,000. Phi Gamma Delta fraternity (FIJI) and Reserve Officer Training Corps will co-host the event.