SGA Bylaw Change to Open Up President and VP positions
The Student Government voted to expand the eligibility criteria for who can run for its top offices last week.
Previously, the offices of president and executive vice president were limited to only previous SGA members with the exception of exigent circumstances due to a bylaw requirement. Some said the requirement violated the SGA’s constitution on eligibility requirements.
The vice president for Student Life Ben Williams proposed a piece of legislation Thursday night that would have completely eliminated the bylaw requirements. SGA President James Dutton said the requirements were created to prevent someone being elected with minor experience.
The decision to change the bylaw was made almost a week before applications are due for students pursuing a position on the Executive Board of the SGA. The deadline to submit an application is this Friday.
The SGA constitution, voted on by the student body in 2010, cites that the SGA president and executive vice president must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and run on a ticket together. The bylaw limiting access to senate members was not voted on by students.
“The people in this room decided that the people in this room should be eligible. It wasn’t a decision made by the students, it was a decision made by the people who this benefited,” Williams said.
Many senators were concerned that a president or executive VP without senate experience would not understand the demands of the Student Government.
“They have 42 positions on the SGA body,” said Senator Omotoso, representing the Robinson College of Business. “There are 42 ways to make an impact.”
Theo Muhumuza, the vice president of Budget and Finance, had a different reaction.
“We all represent the college students,” Muhumuza said. “So you want to exclude those students from running? That’s what you have to ask yourself. You each represent 1,000 students and you think 1,000 students that go to Georgia State aren’t qualified to do this? What does that say about us?”
However, Dutton voiced concerns about candidates not familiar with the constitution or the structure of the SGA.
“We passed these last year not in an effort to limit the amount of people or the availability or the access to the SGA, that was not the intention,” Dutton said. “This [bylaw] doesn’t stop anyone from actually joining the SGA. This makes someone who doesn’t know anything about the SGA learn about the SGA first.”
The SGA’s advisor Dr. Dric Blacknall voiced concerns about the language of the original constitution and the process of how it was drafted versus how it now interacts with the bylaws.
Blacknall explained that the original framers of the constitution made the choice that the president and executive vpdo not have to be senators first.
“If I say that you can’t run for office because you are not one of the 42, then I am telling roughly 31,960 individuals that you’re not eligible for an office at your school that you’re paying money for, and that’s not fair,” Blacknall said.
The amended version of the bill allows any student with the necessary academic requirements to run for the top executive positions with the stipulation that they go through a longer interview and training process with the Election Commission Board.
The deadline to apply for a position on the Executive Board, which is now open to all students, is this Friday. To read the full constitution and all bylaws online, visit www.gsu.edu/sga/constitution_bylaws.html