The Student Government Association (SGA) held their third meeting of the semester this Tuesday. Members discussed both a bill intended to clarify guidelines for SGA’s funding board, the Student Activities Commission (SAC), as well as the concept of an undergraduate town hall.
In an interview with The News-Letter, Executive Vice President Dean Chien said that the cancellation of SGA’s weekly meeting the past two weeks would not be indicative of the organization’s plans going forward.
“We are a policy-driven body, and that means that if there is a bill or resolution on the floor or some guest presentation, we will meet. If not, then there’s really no need to meet,” he said. “That being said, we are not going to be in the business of not meeting... From a legislation standpoint, we have a lot coming down the pipeline.”
Senior Class Senator Chase McAdams introduced a bill titled the Student Activities Commission (SAC) Act, which proposed a revision of SAC bylaws. McAdams is chair of SGA’s Committee on Student Organizations (CSO), which handles recognition and monitoring of student organizations.
In an email to The News-Letter, McAdams stated that the SAC Act’s purpose was to better define which groups are eligible for SAC funding depending on whether they have recognition from SGA or from other groups, such as academic departments or the Center for Social Concern.
“The big piece it sought to amend... would allow for more orgs to be eligible for SAC monthly grants by allowing for dual recognition of groups which is currently prohibited,” he wrote. “It would open the door for groups to receive another source of funding by enabling them to be recognized by SGA effectively.”
McAdams explained that the amendment would enable non-SGA groups to receive SGA recognition and become eligible for monthly grants.
In addition to being CSO Chair, McAdams explained that he is also the finance intern at the Office of Student Leadership and Involvement, where he works directly under Budget Specialist Jackie Morton.
“I never have thought it was a conflict of interest,” he wrote. “The SGA has the right to see anything I do. I thought it put me in the best position to be chair.”
Senior Class Senator Claire Gorman expressed her support for McAdams’ bill at the meeting.
“When we give out huge amounts of money to co-sponsor things, a lot of times SGA-recognized groups would have really needed that money too,” she said. “I think as long as we have it, we should prioritize groups that really make that effort to be recognized by us.”
Some SGA representatives felt that they did not have enough time to fully deliberate on all aspects of the bill.
Junior Class Senator William Cho shared his concerns about not feeling prepared to vote.
“There is a lot we don’t know as a body regarding money and what is actually the best way,” he said. “We haven’t even heard from other students that much, in my opinion. I think there’s some good bones here for this idea.”
Cho added in an email to The News-Letter that SGA members were first able to see the bill less than a day before the meeting was held.
At the meeting, Sophomore Class President Nathan Mudrak echoed Cho’s sentiments, expressing concerns about whether SAC members would be able to vote on annual allocations.
“I just want to emphasize that this is almost $300,000 that we give out, so it’s important that we talk about it,” he said. “It would have been nice to have had time to go over this maybe before the General Body Meeting so that we could mark it up and not spend so much time in the meeting talking about it.”
McAdams underscored the time-sensitivity of the bill, noting that SAC meetings are scheduled to begin the following week.
Ultimately, the bill failed after receiving only 59 percent of votes in favor, just short of the required two-thirds majority.
SGA members also discussed the idea of a bi-monthly town hall that would give leaders of student organizations more opportunities to collaborate with SGA.
Senior Public Health and Philosophy double major Dan O’Brien, who presented about the town hall, believes that it would foster community and enhance students’ ability to effect change on campus.
“A lot of people have great ideas here, which I’ve heard in my four years, but nothing happens afterward because people are really busy,” he said. “This would be a great forum for people to voice their ideas on issues they have with the current way things are done and for you guys to listen.”
In order to improve SGA’s internal structures, Junior Class Senator Evan Mays invited members to join a new SGA Slack. He hopes that this will enable committee members to maintain an archive of past endeavors more effectively than the Facebook Messenger groups which were used previously.
In addition, SGA members discussed pairing senior members with newer representatives. Prior to the discussion of new legislation, SGA members inaugurated Freshman Class President Breanna Soldatelli and Freshman Class Senators Sebastian Alatorre, Karen He, Anthony Singleton, Mariano Thomas, Eric Yang, Chinat Yu and Karen He. Jake O’Keeffe, who ran in an uncontested election to fill a vacancy on the Senior Class Senate, was also inaugurated.
The newly elected representatives will soon be assigned to committees on SGA. In an interview with The News-Letter, Chien said that administrators have been providing assistance to help bring committee initiatives to fruition.
Chien shared his optimism about SGA’s current and future efforts.
“I have heard everything from a resolution on animal welfare testing on the Hopkins campus and the medical campus, to an event actually highlighting the benefits of student protests and how we can support that on campus,” he said. “The committees have been doing great work so far.”