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Student speakers respond to Kyle Rittenhouse at weekly SGA meeting

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated Kurtz described SGA as “a political organization,” when he actually said “an apolitical organization.” The Herald regrets this error.

The WKU Student Government Association met Thursday, March 28 for their weekly meeting where student speakers discussed SGA’s response to Kyle Rittenhouse speaking on campus and senators voted on 13 constitutional amendments for the SGA constitution. 

Avery Wells, joined by other members of the “For the People” student advocacy group, spoke in front of the SGA senate to express their feelings on SGA not making a statement when it was announced that the WKU Turning Point USA chapter would sponsor Kyle Rittenhouse to speak on campus. 

“Several student organizations released statements stating their opposition to his presence on campus with the exception of the Student Government Association,” Wells said. “We recently inquired and had a personal conversation with members of the Executive Board and the president of the Student Government Association, and we were met with pretty much a response that did not show that there was any intention to do anything, and that to me is completely unacceptable.”

Wells said they understand that registered student organizations have the right to bring controversial speakers to campus, however, they did not feel like SGA properly represented the student body during that time.

Wells went on to critique the lack of diversity in the SGA senate, and how 40% of the senate is comprised of members of Greek life and that does not properly represent the student body of WKU. 

“The Student Government Association has a profound disconnect with the cultural communities on this campus,” Wells said, “and we as individuals feel as if we have an obligation to come and ensure that number one, you’re informed of not only our disappointment and dissatisfaction with your lack of response to the situation, but how serious it is for our voices to be advocated for, for our voices to be amplified.”

Student Body President Sam Kurtz spoke on SGA’s position with Rittenhouse speaking on campus. Kurtz highlighted that SGA stands firmly on representing all students and the principles of free speech.

“As an apolitical organization, our role is to ensure that all voices on campus can be heard, regardless of how polarizing or controversial those voices may be,” Kurtz said. “Many students, including many members of SGA, personally find the speaker’s views reprehensible. A number of other members of the student body were interested in hearing what he had to say.”

Kurtz said it was never the intention of SGA to appear complacent or to ignore the voices of the student body. 

Kurtz also discussed the make-up of the SGA senate and how it is out of SGA’s control who is selected to represent the student body of WKU. Kurtz said that the election results from last year represented a significantly low minority population, however, he is not in control of who chooses to run for a seat. 

“It’s important to note that our elections are open to all students and we deeply encourage participation in every corner of our campus,” Kurtz said. “In other words, no one here is saying ‘don’t run.’ We want every student in every corner of this campus to run and it means a lot to us that you do that. But we, as a Student Government Association, don’t control that, that’s up to the student body.”

Kurtz encouraged anyone interested in running for SGA to do so to help increase the level of diversity within SGA. Elections are now open and can be found on the SGA website. Applications are due April 5 by 8:00 p.m.

“I hope that each and every one of you can get involved, because all of us here, we are not independent,” Kurtz said. “Our whole job is to represent your concerns, but if we don’t ever hear your concerns, if no one ever comes to our offices or emails, sometimes there are concerns that would better be represented as you were in the organization yourself.”

Chief Justice Isaac King, joined by other members of the senate, created a committee to impose amendments to the SGA constitution with elections opening. 

13 constitutional amendments were presented and voted on and include but are not limited to: renaming Executive Vice President to Student Body Vice President, renaming Administrative Vice President to Chief Financial Officer, renaming Director of Public Relations to Chief Communications Officer, combining the responsibilities of the Director of IT with the CFO, combining the responsibilities of the Director of Enrollment and Student Experience with the Student Body VP, raising the SGA senate GPA requirement to 2.5 and raising the SGA Executive Cabinet GPA recruitment to 2.75. Any member of the senate can now be removed from office if censured twice in the same academic year. 

Kurtz reminded everyone that SGA meetings are open to all students, and that concerns can be emailed to [email protected] and can also be brought to the SGA office. SGA committee meetings are also open to all students and are not restrictive to only the members of the committee. 

If students have concerns they wish to share with members of the executive cabinet, all contact information can be located on the SGA website

News Reporter Maggie Phelps can be reached at [email protected] 

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