SGA approves legislation to lower GPA requirement, announces executive candidates

Zach Jones (left) and James Line (right) propose bill 21-17-S during the SGA meeting on Tuesday, April 3, 2017. The bill was passed, lowering the GPA requirement for SGA members from 2.5 to 2.0.

Jamie Williams

The Student Government Association voted to lower the grade point average requirement to run for SGA from a 2.5 to a 2.0 at its meeting on Tuesday night.

The bill will be voted on by students during the SGA elections. The bill, which has been discussed by the SGA in the past, was finally passed by a 24-7-0 vote.

The bill aims to increase the diversity of the SGA to include students who are in good standing with the university  but don’t have as high of a GPA. The bill’s authors said the change would make the SGA’s demographics more representative of the student body.

“I think it’s a critical piece of legislation that will really, really help this organization,” said Chief of Staff and author of the bill, James Line.

Some senators, such as William Hurst, expressed concern the time commitments of meetings and being on committees would harm students already struggling with grades.

“I feel like the academic well-being of these students is more important than their ability to vote in the Senate,” Hurst said.

Senator Brian Anderson disagreed, saying SGA should not police students’ abilities, and students can decide for themselves whether or not they can handle the SGA’s activities.

“That kind of logic implies that we know what they can do better than they do,” Anderson said. “That is some paternalism that I don’t think this organization should stand for.”

Senator Ryan Richardson said he vehemently opposed the bill last semester  but supported the requirement change this time. Richardson said that a student’s GPA doesn’t reflect his or her ability as a senator as much as attendance, office hours and involvement in committees do.

The bill needed 24 votes out of the 36-member Senate to pass, and it received exactly 24 votes.

Three other bills intending to make changes in the executive branch were also voted on at the meeting, though only one of the bills was passed.

If approved by students during elections, the bill that was passed would require the administrative vice president (AVP) to give the senate detailed reports over executive discretionary spending.

Currently, the AVP gives weekly reports over SGA’s financial status as well as detailed reports at the first SGA meeting of each month. Under the new bill, the AVP will also give biweekly reports over executive discretionary spending.

Another of the bills, which was not passed, aimed to give the speaker of the senate the authority to appoint committee heads. Currently, the SGA president appoints committee heads, though those appointments must still be confirmed by a senate majority.

According to Ian Hamilton, the author of the bill, the current system gives the president a lot of influence over the legislative branch, so it is in the best interest of the student body to give appointing power to the speaker.

SGA President Jay Todd Richey said the speaker of the senate is meant to have an impartial role,  which would be hindered by the ability to appoint committee chairs. He added that the senate is able to reject a president’s nominee if it feels the president has made a poor choice.

The bill ultimately failed with a 15-3-0 vote.

The final bill aimed to limit the power of the executive branch by disallowing executive members to propose legislation to the senate.

William Hurst, the author of the bill, said this power of proposal is not a tradition of the United States government, and therefore should not be a practice of the SGA. Hurst added that a traditional democracy has checks and balances, and this would improve the balance in SGA.

Senator Ryan Richardson disagreed, saying the SGA is not true to the federal constitution since students can write their own legislation and US citizens cannot.

“Our checks and balances is our ability to vote,” Senator Andrea Ambam said. “We can make a decision. They can propose; your checks and balances can be saying ‘no’ or saying ‘yes.’”

Richey said the bill would make the judicial council and executive members the only people on campus who cannot write legislation, as even students not in SGA are able to write bills and resolutions.

The bill ultimately failed with a 21-7-1 vote.

The approved bills regarding the GPA requirement and AVP reports will be voted on by students on April 17 and 18 via TopNet. The voting will take place at the same time students vote for new senators and executive members. If the amendments are approved by a student majority, they will go into effect during the Fall semester.

The senate also approved a bill that made the SAVES (Standing Against Violence and Ending Self-harm) committee permanent.

Finally, two bills were approved to provide funding for the WKU Makerspace and the Take Back the Night event. The WKU Makerspace is a place where students of any major can design and create using tools such as a 3D printer, power tools and building blocks. Take Back the Night is a march through downtown Bowling Green to raise awareness for sexual assault survivors.

After the meeting, candidates for the Spring election went through an orientation, and Chief Justice Cody Cox confirmed several candidates running for executive positions. Andi Dahmer, current committee chair for MyCampusToo, and Senator Lily Nellans will be running for SGA president. Senator Kenan Mujkanovic may also be running for president, but must first be confirmed at a meeting of the judicial council on Thursday.

Savannah Molyneaux, current chair of the sustainability committee, and Brian Anderson, current chair of the legislative research committee, will be running for executive vice president. Molyneaux will be running on Dahmer’s ticket, while Anderson will be running on Nellans’ ticket.

Current SGA Secretary Kara Lowry will be running for administrative vice president.

The next SGA meeting will take place April 11 at 5 p.m. in Downing Student Union.

Reporter Jamie Williams can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]