Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 30, 2022

SGA approves major internal overhaul

By ARANTZA GARCIA | April 19, 2022

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COURTESY OF MIN-SEO KIM

SGA members discussed multiple amendments that would impact their operations going forward.

The current Student Government Association (SGA) administration held its last general body meeting of the school year on April 12. The members discussed amendments to SGA’s constitution, which include potentially restructuring SGA for the 2023 –2024 academic year. Among other matters, senators also passed bills to distribute tote bags at the Farmer’s Market and order cords and stoles for graduating members of SGA.

Proposed Structural Changes

In a presentation to the Senate, Senior Class President Nathan Mudrak proposed changes to the internal structure of SGA in order to increase engagement and representation based on the feedback compiled over the past year, which passed with a few abstentions. The constitutional amendments were the work of Mudrak and Executive Secretary Elaina Regier. 

He proposed delegating duties within SGA by expanding the legislative body to hold 45 senator positions and electing a programming board. This council would be composed of three representatives in charge of programming who would be able to appoint students to their board. 

Mudrak describes how these new positions will enable students to become more involved with SGA.

“Right now, there are ways for people to get involved with SGA through their organizations, through potentially particular identities they hold, through the schools that they belong to,” he said. “Our hope is that it’s going to engage more people because even if you’re not particularly interested in freshman class issues, you’re going to be interested in issues affecting performing arts groups.”

With this structure, students will be given the option of contributing to legislative responsibilities or to class-specific programming. This change, along with other reorganizations of the legislative body, would go into effect for the 2022–23 academic year.

Senior Class Senator Pritika Parmar wondered if having more members on the ballot would further decrease the voter turnout, which has been low in past elections. 

Mudrak emphasized that dividing the labor within SGA will ensure that the organization is more accessible to students with a wide variety of interests.

Sophomore Class Senator Raj Bhatt stated that while voter turnout can be addressed in other ways, this new structure will lead to increased involvement within SGA. 

“We need to reduce the barrier to becoming an SGA member. And it makes it easier for students who want to represent, you know, themselves and their community if it’s not as much of a burden and workload to do it anymore,” he said.

Junior Class Senator JiWon Woo expressed concerns over the implementation of this new structure.

“I feel like this is overcomplicating SGA a lot,” he said. “I like the initiative, I think this could potentially be good, but in my head this is really complicated and I feel like we’re just going to be overstepping each other a lot.”

Freshman Class Senator Jackson Morris stated that expanding these nonclass-specific legislative roles could cause a disparity in freshmen representation.

Executive Vice President Breanna Soldatelli responded by noting that upperclassmen would be better equipped to head these caucuses and that first-year representatives would still have opportunities to contribute. 

“You’re limited because you’re coming into office and you just don’t have the experience yet,” she said. “It’s similar to how for many, many other organizations you can’t be on the exec[utive] board unless you have a year of experience.” 

In order for these amendments to be implemented in the 2023–24 year, SGA will need to rewrite the bylaws and discuss them further in the next academic calendar.

SGA revisited the power of the Senate and Judiciary in theCommittee on Student Elections’ member appointments and defined the Communications and Marketing Commission under the constitution with additional amendments. It also created the President’s Cabinet, an expansion of the current executive board.

Mudrak emphasized that many of these amendments are longterm recommendations that could still be changed. According to him, only certain amendments would be effective immediately to ensure a smooth transition into the next year. 

Tote Bag Distribution

Sophomore Class Senator Rachel Huang proposed a bill to purchase 100 tote bags that would be distributed to Hopkins students at the 32nd Street Farmer’s Market in order to encourage sustainable consumer habits. 

Bhatt suggested the SGA bird logo be added to the tote bag, noting that SGA giveaways should represent the student government in a clear way.

“As a precedent, anything we fund as an organization should have our branding to solidify unity and what SGA does and what we do for the student body,“ he said.

Junior Class Senator Peter Huang explained that the logo was originally incorporated in the design, but the Health, Safety and Sustainability Committee ultimately decided against it due to increased costs and the potential delay in delivery.

The bill was amended due to a minor error in cost calculation pointed out by Sophomore Class Senator Harvey McGuinness. It passed with a majority in the Senate, with only Bhatt voting no.

Cords and Stoles

Senior Class Senator Grace Wang introduced a bill to provide cords and stoles for SGA members graduating this spring. 

“Seniors have contributed a lot to this organization, so I think it would be really nice, sort of like a token of gratitude,“ she said.

The bill, which would designate a fund of $527 to purchase 13 cords and 11, passed with no abstentions or oppositions. 

Correction: The original headline of this piece incorrectly implied that SGAs structural changes were not yet approved.

The original version of this piece did not include that Regier was involved in creating the proposed constitutional amendments. 

The original version of this article misrepresented the amendments concerning the role of the Senate and Judiciary for CSE appointments, the CMC and presidents cabinet.

The News-Letter regrets these errors. 

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