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SGA passes ethics bill, scraps Judicial Review Board

Keeping with the theme of clarifying and amending, Student Government Association passed amendments creating a code of ethics and eliminating the controversial Judicial Review Board Monday.

At its first meeting after spring break, SGA made several additions and deletions to its constitution, hoping to establish a better process for handling ethical violations and legislative interpretation.

Congress approved the formation of an Ethics Review Board which will conduct investigations of ethical violations from representatives or cabinet members. The 10-member group will be headed by the SGA adviser.

Other SGAs across the country have a similar code of ethics, and it was time for Belmont to implement one for its congress, said SGA President Jeanette Morelan.

“It’s going to be a good check and balance for us to hold ourselves accountable and for the student body to hold us accountable as well,” she said.

Additional amendments were also passed that eliminated the JRB– which previously served to review legislative and constitutional questions– and returned its duties to the Policy Review Committee.

Co-creators of the JRB, Cole Thannisch and Vice President Skyler Schmanski, were absent from Monday’s meeting, but sophomore representative McLean Pillon addressed congress on the changes.

Pillon co-sponsored the new amendment that put the Policy Review Committee back in charge of assessing legislation. Pillon sits on Policy Review and said the JRB simply complicated the legislative process with unnecessary bias.

“We just kind of all shook our heads and said ‘You know what, this is too much.’ There is a much easier way to streamline the process and really take it out of the hands of a review board that was convoluted and was actually leading to bias,” said Pillon.

The amendment was based on legislation that Morelan had authored last year.

Under the amendment, Congress has the authority to overrule any decision made by Policy Review.

It also instituted a cap of nine members on Policy Review in order to prevent a split vote. Any legislation originating from Policy Review also has a two-sponsor limit to prevent a conflict of interest in interpretation.

“Unless we were to institute some really awkward shifting of chairs and random lots with members, it would be inherently biased because as long as it maintained a volunteer pool, you’d have certain people who would want to do it,” Pillon said. “You’d have an opinion from the JRB that would just not really represent what actually needed to come to the floor.”

Morelan said the meeting was active and productive as congress passed amendments that may continue to influence future SGA members.

“When it comes around election season, people tend to really focus on that, but as far as this congress and this SGA, I think we were working on really meaningful things,” Morelan said. “Things are wrapping up, but things are still in the responsibility of this congress.”

Voting on the amendments is now open to students on SGA’s Bruinlink.

The next SGA meeting will be held on March 30.

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