Students lose right to vote at committee meetings

The general student body at the College no longer has the right to vote in Student Government Association (SGA) committee meetings, as SGA last week voted 34-5 to pass a bill restricting voting rights.

SGA also unanimously approved a resolution that will seek a formal apology from the office of Auxiliary Services because it neglected to include SGA in renewing the Sodexho contract. The Resolution Censuring College Officials Responsible for Sodexho Contract Renewal also requested “a resolution from the Board of Trustees reaffirming the College’s commitment to truly shared governance.”

The Resolution Censuring College Officials, a document resolving that SGA represents the student body and that excluding SGA from the process of drawing a new contract with Sodexho goes against “the covenant of shared governance,” passed unanimously.

Lee Whitesell, vice president of Academic Affairs, noted that its passage follows “several unsatisfactory explanations” from the College.

Leo Inglima, sophomore class council president and Sodexho liaison, said “before we pass this on the basis that the renewal was shady, we should know more about the situation.”

The Bill to Reform Committee Voting Rights will allow only SGA members to vote in committees. The members include SGA executive board, senators and associate members. Dan Beckelman, senator at-Large, proposed the bill several weeks ago.

Stefanie Nieves, student trustee, said the bill is needed because “people come in and vote but they don’t know the background.” Beckelman agreed that with his new bill, SGA “won’t have people running in and out.”

Teo Paoletti, senator of Science, is against the bill. “I don’t see the purpose in taking away people’s rights,” he said

Under the new bill, if students want to vote in a committee, they have to first become an associate member, which requires an application process that takes at least a week.

Eric Pasternack, SGA associate member, noted that according to SGA policy, “The right to speak and make motions (in a committee meeting) is dependent on the right to vote.”

Annelise Catanzaro, SGA president, assured Pasternack that the bill would only take away voting rights, not speaking rights.

Also at the meeting, SGA announced a lettering campaign against federal initiative to cut student aid. The federal bill being discussed could take away as much as $9 billion from student aid, Beckelman said. As chair of the lobbying committee, a sub-committee of Legal and Governmental Affairs, he had prepared copies of a letter that SGA members could sign and send in to the government.

Kevin Kelly, vice president of Legal and Governmental Affairs, said he was surprised that Beckelman had written up copies of a letter and had presented them to the SGA without first consulting him.

SGA also formally disbanded a number of inactive organizations at the meeting, including Alpha Kappa Gamma, Sociology Club, Poker Club, Chi Sigma Iota, Health and Exercise Club, Chess Club, Sigma Theta Tau, Irish American Club, F.I.S.T. and the English Club. All of these clubs had been inactive for at least two semesters and were disbanded in order to free up space for new clubs.

The Martial Arts Club was approved to be recognized as a student organization by SGA.