SGA approves new constitution on fifth attempt

Ashlee Clark

It took five tries, but major changes may be headed to the Student Government Association.

SGA congress unanimously approved a new constitution and set of bylaws on Tuesday. It was their fifth attempt to pass the legislation.

The changes must be approved in a student referendum, which is expected to happen next month.

“This has been something that has been a long time coming,” said Jessica Martin, vice president of administration for SGA.

SGA’s previous attempts failed because they did not have the required two-thirds of congress members present needed to vote on legislation.

There were 25 of 29 congress members present at Tuesday’s meeting, Martin said. There are 75 seats allowed under the current constitution.

New congress members have been sworn in and others were removed from the roll to allow the two-thirds attendance, Martin said.

About 13 congress members who had missed more than three meetings were removed from the roll by the judicial council within the last two weeks, she said. Those members were also called or e-mailed about their SGA participation.

Some of the removed congress members couldn’t attend meetings because of scheduling conflicts, she said.

The student body will “hopefully” be able to vote on the new constitution and bylaws a week before the officer elections on March 16 and 17, SGA Chief Justice Troy Ransdell said.

Robert Watkins, chair of the legislative research committee and author of the new constitution and bylaws, said it was “disturbing” that it took so long to get two-thirds of congress at the meetings.

“If nothing else, it reiterated the need for a new system,” he said.

The number of congress members allowed would be reduced to 35 under the new constitution.

The new constitution would also create several new leadership positions, including a speaker of the senate and a chief of staff.

It would also require the legislative branch to be elected by students.

SGA President John Bradley said he thinks a smaller congress will help remedy the problem of attendance at SGA meetings.

Before the passing of the constitution and bylaws, Watkins proposed friendly amendments changing grammatical elements of the documents.

He said there were several versions of the constitution and bylaws since their first reading, but the structure remained the same.

“We tried very hard to make it something that will stand up for as long as it possibly can,” Watkins said.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected].