North Texas Daily

SGA fills committee seats more than a month after the bylaws stated

SGA fills committee seats more than a month after the bylaws stated

SGA fills committee seats more than a month after the bylaws stated
November 16
12:11 2018

In a meeting held last month, the Student Government Association established committees for the academic year.

SGA Bylaws require the “Assignment of Senators to the standing committees shall be determined by the Student Senate during the first Senate meeting at the beginning of each term.” The first Senate meeting was on Sept. 5, meaning the committees are more than a month past due.

“The reason that didn’t happen was because we were low on senators,” said Dominique Thomas, SGA Vice President Thomas and Speaker of the Senate.“I wanted them to be in control, but also wanted to give them some type of guidance.”

Senators were nominated to six different  committees, which include Legislation, Intergovernmental Affairs, Student Affairs and Equity and Diversity. Along with these, there are two permanent standing committees: Bylaws/Constitution and Senate Code of Conduct. The Senate approved the committee members by unanimous consent.

“A minimum of five elected Senators (so long as it is an odd number of committee members) shall serve on these committees,” the SGA bylaws read.

While the panels fulfill their requirements, there is a clear indication of the Senate’s priorities. The Student Affairs and Equity and Diversity committees are filled in the double-digits, 11 and 13, respectively. The Bylaws/Constitution, Senate Code of Conduct and Legislation committees are filled by the minimum five senators. Intergovernmental Affairs holds seven senators.

Each of these committees are charged with distinct roles within the Senate, from student outreach to revamping student government documents. 

Thomas broke down the purposes of the committees and her vision for each panel.

“Equity and Diversity and Student Affairs are more broad topics,” Thomas said. ‘They can focus on different communities. With Equity and Diversity, I want them to partner with the Multicultural Center, Black Student Union, Hispanic Student Association and Pride Alliance.”

Thomas said she wants the Equity and Diversity committee to attend these organizations’ meetings to hear concerns and speak with executive boards about concerns within the organizations and communities as a whole. Other committees, like the Legislation and Bylaws/Constitution, focus instead on internal resources for senators to draft legislation, amend documents and prepare for future sessions.

“My vision for [the legislation committee] is to have them be the ‘go-to’ people whenever senators are working on legislation,” Thomas said. “If they need help with grammar, literally anything, they should go to them. They can also come to me, but this committee will make sure that the legislation is basically perfect.”

Dalton Dickson, chair of the Equity and Diversity committee, said he and others are working to get in touch with identity-based student organizations, specifically those focused on gender and ethnicity. While the administration’s focal point has been inclusivity, Dickson said he does not believe there are enough committees to cover the spectrum of other issues on campus.

“I’ve been giving some thought to an environmental sustainability committee because that is one of our bigger goals around campus,” Dickson said. “We are a green community and a green campus. I think as SGA, it would be better to maintain that.”

Other bodies exist to act as a liaison between university entities. The Intergovernmental Committee, for instance, is “charged with monitoring and ensuring progression of passed legislation between SGA and any other University of North Texas division, department, etc.,” according to SGA bylaws. This panel, like Bylaws/Constitution and Senate Code of Conduct, are what help SGA run efficiently and effectively. The Student Affairs and Equity and Diversity committees will likely have the primary interactions with the student body.

“The purpose of our committees is to internally, as senate, collaborate on legislation that works to address specific issues,” College of Business senator Samuel Weber said. “I’m currently on the Student Affairs Committee, which focuses on student outreach and educating students about the on-campus resources offered to students, from counseling and testing services to programs from the Career Center. I’m also on the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, which focuses on ways in which the different branches of SGA can collaborate in order to help SGA function as a whole.”

Weber said he thinks the committees address many of the main concerns that have been brought to SGA by their constituents for the time being. He added that future committees will be considered at a later date.

“We want to see how these [six] committees work, and then reassess to see if we have a need to add additional committees in the future,” Weber said.

Featured Image: In meetings held last month, the Student Government Association voted unanimously to assign senators to one of the committees within SGA. Jordan Collard

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Ally Zarate

Ally Zarate

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