North Texas Daily

Expansion of student government imminent

Expansion of student government imminent

Expansion of student government imminent
September 17
23:31 2014

Rhiannon Saegert / Senior Staff Writer

Over the summer, the Student Government Association passed two referendums that require student votes to go into effect.

On Sept. 22, the student body will vote on whether or not to add a House of Representatives, a brand new branch of government consisting of 40 positions to SGA.

The house will be made up of representatives from student organizations, and represents a central idea of SGA president Troy Elliott’s campaign promise to get student organizations involved.

Students can vote on the referendum Sept. 22-24 online at the SGA OrgSync website, or sga.unt.edu.

This semester, SGA has made efforts to get the student body more involved in policymaking. SGA communications director Aaron Presley said creating a House of Representatives is part of that effort.

This is the most drastic change to SGA’s structure since the creation of the Freshman Intern Program in 2011.

“The House of Representatives would be the programming part of SGA,” Presley said. “SGA itself is not a programming organization. We promote other student organizations to do the programming. We help get the word out. The House of Representatives represents the student organizations, whereas the senate represents the individual colleges and the academic side.”

Presley said the house would handle more than just programming. Student Activities divides student organizations into ten sub-groups. Each sub-group would choose four students to represent it, ask for scholarships to hold events and write legislation.

The house would also vote to pass legislation, leading to a system of checks and balances similar to the U.S. government’s. 

Currently, the senate can pass legislation by a vote and the executive branch has the power to veto. If legislation is vetoed by the executive branch, it goes straight back to the senate, which can overturn the veto with a two-thirds majority.

If the referendum passes, an executive veto would go to the house instead to act as a tie-breaker.

Presley said the executive branch began planning the house at the beginning of the summer by consulting other associations with existing houses of representatives for guidance.

According to the referendum, the president of any registered student organization may nominate house members.

Elected members can only serve one term, and appointed members could only serve for a maximum of one year if elected for fall, and only once. Representatives elected for the spring semester can only serve one semester.

The house will meet bi-weekly, alternating weeks with the senate, and hold its own officer elections.

Elliott said the old model isn’t the best way to represent students at UNT anymore and not passing the referendum would be a missed opportunity.

“It’s wildly important,” he said. “We’re on the verge of the association being a place where students can come to get things done, and that actually be possible. We’ve demonstrated with the full senate, this is an organization students want to be a part of.”

Featured Image: SGA welcomes newly elected to their first meeting as Senators on Wednesday night in the Business Leadership Building. Photo by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

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