SGA tables bylaw changes, approves summit funding

SGA tables bylaw changes, approves summit funding

SGA tables bylaw changes, approves summit funding
December 05
08:48 2013

Joshua Knopp / Senior Staff Writer

In its last meeting of the semester Wednesday, the UNT Student Government Association tabled discussions on proposed bylaw changes that would have altered the requirements to change the SGA constitution and approved $3,000 to help students participate in UNT’s first Global Innovation Summit next July.

Currently, amending the constitution requires an absolute two-thirds majority vote from the senate. The senate has 45 seats, so 30 senators would have to vote. However, according to vice president and house speaker Anthony Brown, SGA meetings have hit the 30-senator mark just twice this semester.

International studies junior and College of Arts and Sciences senator Shamaal Fletcher, who introduced this legislation, previously introduced two referendums that would have been overridden by the constitution even if they had passed. Fletcher said it has become common practice to simply table bills that would require constitutional amendment if there are less than 30 senators present, and so nothing gets done.

Fletcher reintroduced the referendums on Wednesday, and they were tabled. The bill to change voting also included a clause that introduced absentee voting, but the first half, which would require a constitutional amendment, was tabled.

“We can’t meet quorum,” Fletcher said. “We have a document that is completely unable to be changed. It’s gotten to where people are coming expecting referendums to be tabled.”

The introduction of absentee voting was hotly contested, with senators raising concerns over whether or not the bill would increase voting and whether or not the votes would be informed, as they would have to be sent in without discussion. The bill was sent to committee before being amended to not include the portion that would require a change in bylaws.

“The reason we have discussion is so there’s room to change minds,” said T’Corey Wright, political science senior and College of Arts and Sciences senator. “We all ran and we all knew that the senate met every Wednesday.”

Business undeclared junior and College of Business senator Adam Hasley said he was in favor of absentee voting because it would empower senators who couldn’t be there physically.

“We’re focusing on all the negatives of people not being here instead of the positives of what this bill could do,” he said. “We can find flaws in anything. By doing this, you’re empowering senators who want to represent the student body to do so.”

Earlier in the meeting, Hasley introduced a bill that would put $2,000 toward bringing students to the Global Innovation Summit, during which students would spend two weeks on campus with international students and explore cultures and learning experiences. The Innovation Greenhouse is hosting the summit, and hopes to make it an annual event. The bill was later amended to $3,000 total.

Hasley said he was trying to get more departments to pitch in and make it cheaper for stateside students, who would have to pay for two weeks of housing and food to participate. The College of Arts and Sciences has already contributed, and Hasley said it would be easier to get more if SGA could show that the students were financially committed as well.

While explaining the bill, Hasley took a shot at last meeting’s approval of $1,500 for a bus to take students to the Mean Green football game in Tulsa, Okla., Nov. 30. President Zachary Brown reported that only 25 students rode the bus, including three SGA members. The bus was supposed to take more than 50 students to the game.

Busing students to away games was a main focus of Brown’s presidential campaign, and he said he hasn’t given up on the idea for next spring. Brown said since the game was held over Thanksgiving break, it kept students from riding and increased the price of the bus.

However, Brown said SGA was able to negotiate the price down to $1,000, and he was encouraged by how grateful the Mean Green football team appeared to be and by the number of students that carpooled to Tulsa independently.

“It looked like a UNT home game by the second half,” he said.

Feature photo: SGA President Zach Brown speaks before the Senators in their last meeting of the semester. The SGA tabled an amendment to the two-thirds majority vote rule in the constitution. Photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer 

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