SGA cabinet plans for hands-off approach, more congress-driven legislation in spring semester

The Student Government Association cabinet plans to use a hands-off approach to push congress toward initiating new legislation as well as continue credit hour and space reallocation policies this spring semester.

After reading congressman Isaiah Edwards’s editorial calling congress to action in writing more legislation and using the full allotted time for meetings effectively, President Jonathan Rankin said he had similar concerns as the congressman but did not want to undervalue the importance of grant petitions.

“I agree with the congressman that we should definitely be working harder to bring more legislation to the floor,” Rankin said. “But we shouldn’t be doing that at the expense of facilitating organization events and activities on campus.”

Rankin and Vice President Jade Cooper said they both recognized most first-semester freshman congress members felt uncomfortable writing legislation, but the two hope to watch members develop more confidence second semester.

“I would love it if brand new policy initiatives came out of congress,” said Rankin. “Right now there’s one or two people in congress that have really been pushing legislation, and I know there’s a lot of people in congress that care about this university and want to work to improve our community. So, I would hope this semester they’ll be doing a lot more authoring of legislation and pursuing different issues that they care about.”

To ensure congress have full access to support in initiating legislation, Cooper wanted to open up the SGA office to congress for more hours, she said.

This approach is an adjustment from SGAs in years past where congress wanted less power in the cabinet and desired more congress-driven efforts in writing legislation, Rankin said.

“There was definitely a movement in congress of getting cabinet off their backs and writing new legislation,” said Rankin. “So, I think we’re here to be a resource to them and help facilitate their initiatives. It shouldn’t be the role of cabinet to hand out mandates.”

Rankin has asked Director of Policy Review McLean Pillion and Policy Review Chair Alex Marsh to encourage their committee to work on passing more legislation. However, in light of last year’s lack of success in making a legislation a reality on campus, Rankin said he recognized the need for a different approach.

“There’s been a lot less legislation this year,” Rankin said. “We wanted to focus on having more effective legislation because there wasn’t a ton of fruits from our labors last year.”

By working with senior leadership on the front end with issues like space reallocation and credit hour caps, SGA hopes to become a more effective force this semester, Rankin said.

SGA passed space reallocation report in a special session on Thursday. Senior leadership will review the legislation and make decisions from there.

“We’ve worked really hard to get basically the student view of the issue of what we want do with the space from various channels over a lot of time,” Cooper said. “But, I think it’s a very well-rounded report that we’ve created that has the students’ best interests in mind.”

For those looking to express ideas for legislation, students can contact representatives in the SGA office in the Beaman, through its site, by attending its next open meeting on Feb. 1 in the Lila D. Bunch Library Multimedia Hall or by directly getting involved and applying for a congress position.

“I don’t have any problem with congress having 35 people. We don’t need 30 people if 20 of them are just sitting down for an hour and a half, then leaving, and that’s the only time that they put into SGA,” Rankin said. “But there are more people on campus who want to be involved, and I hope that they would turn in application by the 25th so we can do even more good work.”

SGA congress applications remain open until Monday.

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