Associate members to face penalties for inactivity

A new policy for revoking the voting rights of associate members of the Student Government Association (SGA) was passed last week. The position of associate member is the only one available to students who are not elected but wish to be involved in SGA.

The Associate Member Bill passed by a vote of 31-8, but it worried some senators. “We already took away the voting rights of the entire student body,” Teo Paoletti, senator of Science, said. “This is restricting voting even more.”

The purpose of the bill is to “give an attendance policy to the associate member program,” Annelise Catanzaro, SGA executive president, said. According to the bill, associate members who do not meet the new attendance policies will be designated inactive and be unable to vote or run for senate positions.

The bill gives “accountability to the associate member program,” Jasmine Charl?n, executive vice president and the sponsor of the bill, said.

Tom Sales, senator of Culture and Society, replied that the bill was “changing the nature of associate members,” and that associate members are “not supposed to have to do anything they don’t want to.”

S. Lee Whitesell, vice president of Academic Affairs, echoed Paoletti’s sentiments. “I’m not comfortable taking away people’s voting rights based on attendance,” he said.

Charl?n sponsored another bill concerning associate members, the Speaker of the Associate Members Bill, which was rejected by a vote of 34-5 after senators questioned its necessity.

The bill would have created a new position, speaker of the associate members. This person would sit with the SGA senate and be able to speak at any time during general body meetings, as opposed to only during open floor.

“There’s an easier way to find out how associate members feel – ask them,” Sales said. He called the proposed position “just a fancy title for a r?sum?,” and he was seconded in this opinion by Leo Inglima, vice president of Equity and Diversity.

Kevin Kelly, vice president of Legal and Governmental Affairs, believed that associate members were not intended to have such power during general body meetings. “Associate members are supposed to be personnel support for internal committees,” he said. “That’s where they have speaking and voting rights.”

A series of guest speakers is appearing at SGA meetings to educate SGA on “what’s going on” at the College, Catanzaro said. The first speaker in the series, philosophy professor Rick Kamber, spoke to SGA about liberal learning options.

Kamber focused on liberal learning options A and B, in which students meet their liberal learning requirements with an interdisciplinary concentration that functions much like a minor, and even shows up on a transcript like a minor.

Not only do these options look good on r?sum?s, they “allow students to learn about something they are actually interested in,” Kamber said. He also pointed out that with the interdisciplinary concentrations, students can often fulfill their liberal learning requirements with fewer courses.

According to Kamber, very few students choose options A and B because they are not aware of the possibilities.

Alaina Griffin, sophomore business administration major, was appointed as the sophomore class secretary. Dan Scapardine, freshman political science and history major, was appointed as freshman class secretary.

Campus-wide elections for next year’s SGA members will be held on April 13 and 14, Daria Silvestro, alternate student trustee, said. These dates coincide with Passover and Good Friday. When she asked if this was a problem for anyone, Sales objected that students would be busy then and that it was a dishonor to hold elections on holy days.

No change in the dates of the election were made.

Inglima is working on a Web site to promote diversity club networking, which will advertise diversity clubs to freshmen and a diversity-training conference for student leaders. He also plans to rent out a diversity kiosk to clubs so that they can advertise in the student center.