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Student government passes partial overhaul

Senators voted to approve only half of the legislative amendments up for a vote during the April 2 Student Government Association meeting, foiling plans that cabinet members touted as an effort to streamline the organization’s operation and structure.

Senate Chair Luke Nelsen (sr) said this was the first instance in his tenure with SGA that a proposed bill had not been approved by the senate.

Had all six amendments to the SGA constitution and compendium been approved as a single set, the 2012-2013 assembly would have included positions for approximately 28 voting members, with approximately 20 senators and exactly eight class representatives.

Currently, there are 48 positions for voting members, but only 28 of them are filled.

Two of the amendments that the senate rejected would have reduced the number of senators and increased the number of class representatives in next year’s assembly, but the senate passed the amendment extending voting rights to class representatives. Combined, these decisions actually increased the assembly’s potential voting population by four members, despite attempts to decrease it by 20 and the assembly’s inability to fill the 20 senate seats that remain unoccupied for spring 2012.

Adjustments have not yet been made in response to the decision to close Shatford House. SGA’s executive vice president has the authority, according to the constitution, to revoke Shatford’s status as a “residence area,” thereby deleting its senator positions from the assembly.

The decision to keep the current number of senator positions comes after IWU’s Student Development Office cut the budget for SGA organizations by 25 percent for next year, according to Aaron Augello (so), SGA’s president-elect and current executive vice president.

Student organizations will have $10,000 less for the 2012-2013 school year, despite the $6,000 in funds left over from this school year. Augello said the surplus money had been allocated at $300 per year for each unfilled senator position. Furthermore, money could not be taken out of the budget without the positions being eliminated, as the proposed amendment sought to do.

Augello said that he and Nelsen were each responsible for drafting 2-3 of the proposals, which the Ways and Means Committee then workshopped into legislative documents.

The senate also voted down an addendum to the compendium that would require senators to log five hours of work weekly and class representatives three hours. The proposal included the explicit purpose of adjusting these hours “to accommodate a pay increase for these positions,” but the senate voted to keep the current requirements: three hours weekly for senators and zero hours logged for class representatives.

It is unclear whether SGA will be able to allocate any additional funds to these positions, which may mean the class representatives will be unpaid voting members next year.

The “Restructuring the Assembly” constitutional amendment, which relieves nonvoting members of the requirement to attend business meetings, passed with 23 votes in favor, zero opposed and three abstentions.

The only unanimous decision made April 2 was in response to the constitutional amendment that renames the position currently known as “secretary” and defines 6-8 hours per week as the expected workload for the re-dubbed “executive assistant” role and the senate chair.

The SGA constitution acknowledges the faculty senate of the Marion Traditional Campus as the governing body that legitimizes the student government’s operations. For this reason, the constitution requires constitutional amendments to obtain approval from MTC faculty, the president of IWU and the provost before technically taking effect.

The assembly will not meet April 9, in observance of Easter, and April 16 is scheduled as the final business meeting of this legislative session, meaning any revised draft of these proposed amendments could not be passed before the end of the school year.

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- who has written 50 posts on The Sojourn.

News Editor. Steven joined The Sojourn in the fall of 2010 and is News Editor for the 2011-2012 school year. He will graduate in the spring of 2012 with a B.S. in Media Communication, a minor in Journalism, and membership in IWU’s Mary C. Dodd Honors Program. Follow him: @stevenp1329.

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