SGA evaluates bylaws, dorm president election policy
Members of the Student Government Association (SGA) struggled to agree on structural reevaluations within the organization during their meeting on April 24.
The meeting included five motions: one to change dorm president elections from fall to spring, one to remove the technical bylaw of Residence Hall Associations (RHAs), one to remove a bylaw on allowed stipends for executive board members and one to modify the stipends.
Sophomore Class President Keith Love ’13 moved motion one to change dorm president elections to the fall, which lead to a varied and passionate debate among representatives before receiving an overwhelming “no”—members voted to keep dorm president elections in the spring.
Heights Dorm President Harry Davis ’11 claimed that the current spring election system is flawed. “There are some serious problems in our voting system when it comes to democracy,” he said. “It comes down to this: do we want to be democratic and proportional?” Other representatives agreed that they are elected by a very small voting constituency, which results in a dorm presidency where the president starts off disconnected and largely unknown by their residents. As AMS Dorm President Charlie Wulff ’11 said, “If you’re elected in the fall, your voters would have only known you for two weeks. People will know you better if you are voted in the spring.” Conversely, Foss Dorm President Dan Echt ’11 stated that “[he’s] been elected in the spring, [he’s] been elected in the fall. I got more done for the dorm, for the residents, when I was elected in the fall. As a spring electorate, I didn’t know my residents very well.”
Some SGA members believed that the specific issue of “fall or spring” was irrelevant in light of much greater structural issues within the governmental system. Vice President Athul Ravunniarath ’11 said, “If we’re going to reform the system, it should be complete reform—not only partial.” East Quad Dorm President Morgan Lingar’13 thought this was an unproductive time to be discussing this and suggested the government revisit the issue after its pre-fall orientation.
Motion two saw the election of next year’s SGA executive board: proposed were Raymond Rieling ’12 as publicity chair, Morgan Lingar ’13 as parliamentarian, Samuel Andler ’12 as residential life chair and Jessica Russo’12 as secretary. The secretary position will take the place of the committee coordinator role, with the main addition being record-taking and minute-writing.
One dorm president recalled that Andler, who will be dealing with Campus Life as a part of his new position, was previously dismissed as a Community Advisor (CA). Co-President-Elect Justin Rouse ’12 assured representatives that he has “no doubt—nor does the administration involved—that Sam could see this position to the best possible level.” Members passed motion two nearly unanimously.
Motion three followed suit as SGA members agreed that RHAs were ineffective as a whole. According to President Leslie Hutchings ’11, RHAs were “designed to be comprised of the dorm presidents, CAs and a few members of the dorm” in order to “discuss issues pertinent to their resident hall and plan events.” However, she said, they “tended to work well in smaller dorms but were flops in bigger dorms.”
Motions four and five regarding stipends introduced a certain amount of controversy. Rouse and Hutchings acknowledged that this was one of the most colorful and critical evaluations of the Executive Board and its structure, and thanked representatives for their input. Davis pointed out that, “if people worked harder, then we would have a better school.” He was also very upset about the fact that the executive board receives a stipend, while the rest of the SGA does not: “It’s outrageous that you guys get paid and we don’t…if you’re going to pay some people, then you should pay all of them, too.” Representatives ultimately passed motions four and five with a few objections.
Final comments during the meeting included a discussion about Hutchings’ and Ravunniarath’s “skirt day” Official Announcement. The SGA agreed that, while they did not necessarily all feel that it was an abuse of executive power to voice opinion through an official medium, in the future the President and Vice President should raise their concerns with the entire SGA—and in this way SGA would write a statement together, as a collective administration. Representatives also announced that Associate Dean of Students and Director of Campus Life Jed Wartman was frustrated with the chaos that was this spring’s room draw and fully intends to create an online, electronic system for the coming semesters.