Bylaw amendment defeated in SGA meeting

The Student Government Association (SGA) defeated a bill that would have revised the way SGA approves organizations and the way it interacts with the office of Student Activities at its meeting last week.

The bill, proposed by Marco Zelaya, vice president of legal and governmental affairs, would amend SGA bylaws to change all references to the office of Student Life to the office of Student Activities. It also would delegate to Student Activities the duty of determining where an organization served a legal purpose. The bill also proposed, more controversially, that Student Activities take on the task of determining whether an organization met student needs, and when an organization would be declared inactive.

“This bill will clear any confusion in the bylaws,” Zelaya said. “It will define the SGA’s role more clearly.”

While the senate seemed to agree that the bylaws needed updating, the question was how to do it. The senators debated about ideas for amendments to the bill and wrestled with ways to put those ideas into the format of formal motions required by SGA.

“This just clarifies our role,” Daria Silvestro, senator of education, said. “This doesn’t change our responsibilities as they are.” She later said in debate, “I don’t want too much of our opinion going into approving organizations.”

Chris Touhy, parliamentarian, argued that SGA should retain the ability to decide if an organization meets student needs. He made an amendment to the bill for SGA to retain that right, which was accepted.

SGA Executive President Christinia Puglia made an unusual move, stepping down from her role as presiding officer of the meeting, turning over the duties of the chair to Executive Vice President Laura DeLucia. The move allowed her to vote on the bill, as well as participate in debate.

When Puglia spoke, it was to refute claims that the bill does not change SGA’s role on campus. She said while she would support a bill to define SGA’s role more clearly, this bill did not make the right changes. The bill, she said, takes power from SGA and gives it to the administration – an administration, she said, that will not always respond to student concerns.

“It’s good to keep power in case you need it,” she said, referring to the powers that SGA has in recognizing student organizations as well as declaring them inactive.

A proposal by Stefanie Nieves to amend the bill to define SGA’s role as also ensuring that new clubs do not duplicate the purposes of old clubs got bogged down in the wording and was defeated by a large margin.

In the final vote, the bill failed 12-19-6.

In other business, Craig Gross, Student Finance Board (SFB) chairperson, distributed the proposed organizational funding to the senate. He explained that SFB spent last weekend at its annual budget retreat, and engaged in nearly 20 hours of debate about budgets.

In accordance with SFB’s new funding guidelines, organizations were given funds for “only essential programming,” Gross said. “We were able to hold the line in terms of spending.”

SGA will vote on SFB’s proposed organizational budgets at its April 7 meeting.

SGA also approved a resolution introduced by Mike Cilia, vice president of administration and finance, publicly thanking the Rat and the Packer physical enhancement center for their assistance in the SGA’s Lift-A-Thon fundraiser.