Voting rights bill denied, motor club approved

The rights for student trustees to vote in both general body SG meetings and at the Board of Trustees meetings have been absent since the 1990s. (Tom O'Dell / Photo Editor)

A bill granting voting privileges to the student trustee and alternate student trustee of Student Government sparked an animated debate among members of the general body during last week’s SG meeting. The bill ultimately failed.

SG also passed a bill increasing its oversight of clubs and granted club status to TCNJ Motor Club last week, during its final business meeting of the semester.

Bill S2011-09 met contention from the general body after being introduced by its author, senior political science major Thomas Little, student trustee.

Vice President of Legal and Governmental Affairs Brian Block explained the bill.

“This act gives the student trustee and alternate student trustee the right to vote on anything that comes before the general body,” said Block, senior political science major.

Currently, Little and Randi Lynn Veenstra, junior history major and alternate student trustee, only hold voting privileges at Board of Trustees meetings.

According to Little, student trustees originally had the ability to vote on issues that came before both SG and the Board of Trustees. However, their SG voting privileges were rescinded in the 1990s due to a perceived conflict of interest.

“If there was an issue that came before the general body and the Trustees, it was seen as the trustees getting two votes,” Little said.

Executive Vice President Corey Dwyer, junior political science major, argued that restoring the trustees’ right to vote at SG meetings would give rise to the same issue.

“There is something very important to be said for the trustees to be neutral,” Dwyer said. “The trustees are by nature supposed to be independent of a lot of other aspects of SG.”

Little argued that the student trustees, who attend both Board of Trustees meetings and weekly SG meetings, should be allowed a voice in both governing bodies.

“I feel that the trustees have a say in (SG) as long as they attend general body meetings,” Little said.

Vice President of Community Relations Trish Krug, senior early childhood education and Spanish double major, agreed.

“If they’re a member of this organization, they should be allowed to vote as an elected member,” Krug said.

Block dissented, holding that student trustees are not elected for the same purpose as senators and class council members.

“A (student trustee) is not a representative of students. We just elect the trustee. A trustee would not be voting for any constituency on an issue,” Block said. “(Trustee voting is) not allowed in government right now, and it shouldn’t be allowed in SG.”

Bill S2011-09 required 75 percent of SG to vote in its favor in order to pass. The bill failed after receiving 31 votes for it and 30 against it.

Before consideration of S2011-09 split the general body, SG unanimously passed a bill to hold clubs to firmer standards and subject them to additional oversight.

The bill requires organizations attempting to obtain club status to contain a minimum of 10 members and plan to sponsor at least one event open to the student body.

To maintain club status, existing clubs now must complete an SG survey delineating their purpose and goals as an organization. The survey will be released next year, according to Senator of Culture and Society Amanda Esposito, senior history major and co-sponsor of the bill.

“We need to look at clubs a little closer,” said Senator-at-Large CJ Gutch, sophomore finance major.

SG also passed a club during last week’s meeting. TCNJ Motor Club gained club status by a unanimous vote. The club sprang from its founders’ interest in cars and motor sports and hopes to provide an outlet for other enthusiasts.

“We want to do things like start a defensive driving course on campus. We’d also like to hold off-campus events ranging from … going go-carting … to going to motor sports parks in New Jersey,” said junior economics major Daniel Japa, who spoke on the club’s behalf along with junior accounting major Chris Piccione.

SG members familiar with the duo commended their passion for cars.

“They’re two of the biggest car freaks I know,” said junior class vice president and junior economics and political science double major Robert Poss.

Veenstra praised their plans to initiate a defensive driving course.

“That is going to be extremely useful for (students) on our campus,” Veenstra said.

Emily Brill can be reached at brill3@tcnj.edu.