At the Student Government Association (SGA) meeting last Wednesday, Pedro Khoury, executive president, announced that Matthew Civiletti, vice-president of administration and finance, resigned from his position.
Also at the meeting, the SGA addressed the recently passed Equity and Diversity referendum, the Student Finance Board (SFB) budget retreat and a failed Election Petition Bill.
Of the resignation, Khoury said, after the board discussed the matter, it was decided that “it would be best to have someone step in for the remainder of the semester.”
Blair Gumnic was appointed as the new vice-president of administration and finance.
The Equity and Diversity referendum, which was passed last week by a vote of 134-53, created the position of vice-president of Equity and Diversity and the position will appear on the ballot for the upcoming election. The passage has stirred mixed reactions toward the SGA from students.
SGA members expressed different responses to the negative reactions from students. Some members questioned the legitimacy of the passed referendum, while others insisted that, since the position was legally passed, the issue was closed.
Ravi Kaneriya, senator at-large, suggested that “the position has been created legally, but not legitimately.” He added, “The school will always see the position as illegitimate in the future.”
In disagreement with Kaneriya, another SGA member asserted that, since the position was legally passed by a 3 percent vote, the student body obviously does not care about the referendum.
“We need to move on and forget about this and concentrate on things that people do care about,” he said.
Several members asserted that the SGA did all it could do to get people involved in the referendum.
“People are just apathetic,” Joanna Holguin, sponsor of the bill to create the position, said. “I know we did a good job (of informing people about the referendum).”
Holguin added, “I think it’s a shame that some people are putting blame on SGA. I think its unfortunate that people are so apathetic. That’s one of the reasons why I created this bill in the first place – to get more people involved in SGA.”
Kaneriya suggested that a question asking for student opinions about the newly created position appear on the ballot of the upcoming election.
He said he feels that this would be a chance to legitimize the position.
“I think that the SGA has to put reflecting on students” opinions accurately above expedience,” he added.
There was debate regarding placing a minimum on the amount of people that have to vote in order for referendums to pass.
However, Magda Manetas, advisor to the SGA, cautioned the SGA about setting a minimum number to legitimize elections.
She feels that such an action would cause trouble in future elections.
Holguin suggested during the meeting that the SGA look further into holding future referendum and election voting online. She feels that this would enable higher student participation in voting.
Daria Silvestro, speaker of the senate, said that she has talked to SGAs in other schools to see how the process is conducted.
She also asserted that the executive board will continue to review ways to increase student participation in referendums and elections.
The election Petition Bill, sponsored by Ravi Kaneriya to decrease the number of signatures needed by candidates to run for SGA positions, failed passage.
Supporters of the bill argued that the signature requirements are too high and consequently limit the number of people who choose to or are able to run in elections. Currently, 300 signatures are required for executive board candidates, while 150 are required for senate candidates and 100 for class council candidates.
Supporters suggested that lowering the number of required signatures would encourage more people to run for SGA positions and thus offer students a greater scope in the candidate selections.
Opponents argued that lessening the requirement would not be effective in maintaining a qualified candidate pool.
Marco Zelaya, senator of culture and society said, “I think this bill promotes laziness. I don’t think it will solve anything.”
An SFB representative also presented the budget to the SGA for the upcoming 2005-2006 school year at the meeting.
He announced that the student yearbook, “The Seal,” will be funded into next year.
He also announced that club sports will be distributing funds equitably, except for the men’s ice hockey team whose games demand a lot more money.
Next year club sports teams will receive $147 per game for home games and $200 for off-campus games.
The representative also said that a cap has been set on the number of athletic teams and, with twenty existing organizations, they are not accepting more club sports teams.
SGA also discussed a proposal to provide students with a movie channel sponsored by Comcast.
The channel would provide students with access to movies that would be shown on the televisions in their dorm rooms or projected on the screens in the residence hall lounges.
However, some members brought up the possibility of some students not being willing to pay the extra price for this service.
There may be future polling on the SGA Web site to get student feedback on the matter.
A candidate forum was held April 12 at 7 p.m. in Brower Student Center room 202 West, allowing candidates present their platforms to the student body.
SGA elections for the upcoming election will be held in the Brower Student Center Atrium on April 18 and 19 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students must present their student ID cards in order to vote.