The Student Government Association (SGA) has abandoned plans to be chartered under the Board of Trustees only days after passing a resolution to do so. Instead, the organization is considering alternative routes to re-charter independently of Campus Council (CC).
The SGA resolution, passed unanimously at a meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 22, declared that SGA and CC should be equal entities; currently, SGA is chartered under CC, meaning that CC has the power to revoke SGA’s charter at any time. In the resolution, SGA declared that they are financially independent of CC and that “the fundamental roles and responsibilities of the Student Government Organization and Campus Council, while different, are of equal importance,” according to the resolution.
In other words, the resolution and subsequent re-chartering would have made SGA, as the campus’s student advocacy organization, the equal of CC, which makes policy decisions and is already chartered under the Board of Trustees. This move was partially in response to last year’s restructuring of CC, which resulted in SGA losing its guaranteed voting seat on CC.
SGA presented this resolution at a meeting with the Student Development Committee of the Board of Trustees on Thursday, Oct. 23, to which the leaders of several student groups were invited. The Student Development Committee cannot vote to pass or reject student resolutions, but it can bring these resolutions before the Board of Trustees as a whole, which can then vote on the matter.
Jayne Chambers ’76, a member of the Board and chair of the Student Development Committee, questioned whether SGA had moved too quickly in declaring independence from CC — she suggested that CC’s new structure, which does not include an SGA seat, is too new to judge at this point in the year. She also offered to help SGA improve its role as a student advocacy group and to use its power to more effectively lobby CC.
The committee meeting ended inconclusively, but SGA President Josh Foerst ’15 pushed to have the issue raised at the full Board meeting on Sat., Oct. 24. Again, matters ended inconclusively for SGA; the Board did not move to vote on the resolution.
“It wasn’t a negative response, it was just a non-response, which is what happens,” said Foerst. “[The trustees] don’t do things the first time they’re discussed. … The conversation among the Board could take three years, and we don’t have that kind of time. [Chartering through the trustees] is going to slow us down and ruin the functionality of SGA.”
Instead, SGA is now considering chartering through the Office of the President, which would still allow the group to be independent of CC. Other alternatives will be considered, especially after Dean of Students Kurt Holmes attends a meeting of the Great Lakes Colleges Association in the coming weeks, where he will ask other schools how they structure student governance.
“Many schools’ SGAs are very different entities than ours,” said Foerst. “In this next semester and a half, quite a few conversations are going to occur with Campus Council. We have to define our roles.”