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SGA amends senate code of conduct to clarify conflicts of interest

SGA amends senate code of conduct to clarify conflicts of interest

SGA amends senate code of conduct to clarify conflicts of interest
November 05
15:55 2021

The Student Government Association approved an amendment to their code of conduct on Wednesday outlining the possible conflicts of interest between SGA applicants and the existing senators, voting on their acceptance into the organization.

The original proposal for Article 2 Section 7 of the code of conduct was first introduced by Vice President David Muñoz-Sarabia while the smaller, more specific amendments also addressed Wednesday were introduced by the Senate Internal Committee. The final amendment presented in the meeting was a compilation of the two sides’ amendments.

“This was a great compromise,” said Grant Johnson, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences senator. “Everyone on the committee agreed with it.”

All students who want to join the SGA are required to compile a list of 25 signatures from their fellow students. Occasionally, senators are asked if they would like to add their name to the appointee’s petition. Some of the amendments to the code were to fix minor grammatical errors, but the biggest proposed change focused on replacing the first subsection of the article to allow senators to sign an appointee’s petition with the option to abstain from voting.

“We’re just students like them,” Johnson said.

College of Engineering Senator Andy McDowall, acting as speaker for the meeting in Muñoz-Sarabia’s absence, read aloud the proposed amendments to the room of senators.

“It is recommended that a senator meeting the above criteria abstain from a vote of confirmation for the candidate in question,” McDowall said.

Also included in the amendment was a reminder to senators to disclose any “current and past affiliations” they have with the applicant, such as being members of the same club.

“The biggest thing is just disclosing whether people are just friends,” Chief of Staff Casey Jimenez said. “It’s more of an honest thing to do.”

In an open discussion, senators talked through scenarios where abstaining from voting would prevent an applicant from being admitted to SGA. There was a previous hearing where seven senators signed the applicant’s petition to join, and if they had all chosen not to vote, it could have cost the applicant the votes they needed to join the organization.

“If senators were to go through with abstaining from a vote, you make the barrier for entry a lot harder,” Jimenez said.

Johnson not only pointed out were those situations rare, but also why the decision to abstain from voting was a choice for each senator and not required.

“Some senators opposed [the amendment] because they want full transparency,” Johnson said. “There’s pressures for senators to abstain if they know the person.”

Senators like Johnson also did not want to potentially alienate their constituents by not being allowed to sign apointees’ petitions or vote for them when they pitched themselves to the SGA.

“I was actually a signature on an appointment and they still got on the senate,” Johnson said.

After talking through the possible complications, the amendment was passed with a 10-2 final tally, and attending senators were given the option to sign their names to the document.

In addition to amending the code of conduct concerning new applicants, two new applicants were approved unanimously by the senate during Wednesday’s meeting.

After being denied the first time he applied, senators applauded for new CLASS Senator Ethan Gillis as he took his seat amongst his fellow SGA members. Supreme Court Justice Ben Duenas was also applauded as he re-entered the room and will serve as the fourth member of the SGA supreme court.

Featured Image: Newly appointed CLASS Senator Ethan Gillis prepares to take a seat with the other senators on Nov. 3, 2021. Photo by John Anderson

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Alex Reece

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