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SGA passes constitutional amendment at first senate meeting

Student Government Association passed two pieces of legislation at its first senate meeting of the semester on Monday evening.

The primary focus of the meeting was an amendment to the organization’s constitution — authored by President Gavin Mummert, Vice President Mohansingh Udhwani Jr. and Treasurer Jacob Hukill — which would change the structure of SGA representation, eliminate one of the steps in the process of becoming a senator and modify the structure of committees.

The amendment passed after extensive debate, which focused mostly on the value of committees and the purpose of SGA as a whole.

The first part of this amendment removed the collegiate representation structure of the senate, where certain numbers of seats are allotted to different colleges based on enrollment numbers.

Under the new amendment, most senators will serve as at-large representatives or as new student representatives. There will also be one honors representative, one interdisciplinary and global studies representative and a graduate student council.

“Belmont University, hereafter referred to as Belmont, is a united community, not one divided by the various colleges it is comprised of. Belmont SGA should reflect this,” according to the amendment.

It also established weekly, hour-long senate meetings — a change from the bi-weekly meetings held in previous years — and eliminated the requirement for 25 signatures from peers before running for an SGA senate seat.

The most controversial part of the amendment proposed replacing the current committee system with one that includes a few standing committees and other ad hoc committees.

With this change, the senate will always have a Finance Committee and a graduate council, but other committees will be established around specific issues.

This means the Community Outreach and Events Committee and the Policy Review Committee will be eliminated until the senate votes to reestablish them.

The change will allow students to focus more on solving specific issues around campus and look for solutions beyond writing legislation, Udhwani said.

Some senators objected to this change, especially to the elimination of the Policy Review Committee, because that committee is responsible for most of the legislation SGA writes. One of those senators was Mia Delamar, the former parliamentarian.

“You’ve always had the option to make an ad hoc committee for whatever you were passionate about. We’ve always said, ‘Write legislation, write legislation, anyone can write legislation,” Delamar said.

However, the new system won’t change many of the specific functions of the committees, Mummert said.

“Really how we function won’t be all that different, it just means that structurally you won’t be forced onto a committee. You won’t join and apply for a committee, you’ll join and choose where you want to go,” he said.

This led to a larger debate about the purpose of SGA as an organization and whether its members spend too much time talking about semantics.

“Are we here to talk about white and black print, or are we here to do something? I’m here to do something,” said Senator Travis Braud, talking about his desire to raise the campus minimum wage for student workers. “Let’s allow those things to happen and not talk about stupid points forever.”

Others responded to this by pointing out that SGA has power to make concrete change around campus, and legislation is often the means to do that.

“In theory what we are — and this is what I’ve told freshmen — is we’re problem solvers. We’re not politicians,” Mummert said. “This is not a political organization. Our job is to make things at this campus the best they can possibly be.”

In spite of all the debate, the amendment passed.

The senate finished the meeting with a piece of legislation which proposed bringing back the allotment of two free sauce packets at Chick-fil-A. This issue had already been resolved by an SGA senator without the use of legislation, so the resolution passed without any debate.

Going forward, the constitutional amendment will be voted on by the student body before taking effect.

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Contributing reporting from Lydia Fletcher and Rob Redel. 

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