North Texas Daily

SGA vetoes funding, will hold house

SGA vetoes funding, will hold house

December 03
23:10 2014

Joshua Knopp / News Editor

To close out the semester, Student Government Association president Troy Elliott vetoed two bills that would have assigned almost $8,000 in funding to the Graduate Student Council for two events in the spring. Elliott instead allotted $1,000 each to the events out of his discretionary budget.

The election board has pushed back the vote on the House of Representatives to January.

The two bills provided $2,786 for Graduate Student Appreciation week in April and $5,000 for UNT Days, an event that will train students how to advocate on their university’s behalf to state legislature, also slated for April. In an executive order, Elliott said he and vice president of student affairs Elizabeth With determined the Graduate Student Appreciation week could be funded entirely by the Eagle’s Nest fund, as long as the event is on campus. The UNT Days funding was vetoed because SGA has sent students to Austin During Capitol Day, a similar event, for less money in the past, and intends to include graduate students this year.

Elliott wrote that $5,000 was too much for an event that not only doesn’t represent the entire campus, but overlaps with an event that does.

“When UNT SGA sends representation, it represents and advocates on behalf of the full campus population. Should GSC send representation, it will only reflect and advocate on behalf of less than 7,000 students,” he said. “The interest of the association is in representing all students at the University of North Texas. It is imperative that UNT represent our students uniformly.”

Three GSC officials either declined comment or did not return emails and phone calls from the NT Daily.

The legislation comes on the heels of GSC requesting to split from SGA over the summer and continuing to pursue the prospect in the fall. Graduate students make up about 20 percent of the student body, but only hold two of the 45 seats in the student senate.

Though initially intending to hold the election for the new House of Representatives in December, the election has been pushed back to January to give the elections board more time to meet.

The House, which was originally voted into effect in September, represents a dramatic re-design of student government representation, with a branch that focuses on issues facing student organizations instead of issues facing academic colleges. Only 3 percent of the student body turned out in the vote to approve the House referendum, so SGA pushed back elections to fill the House’s seats until after it had time to make more students more aware of the new branch. Official candidates were finalized last week.

College Democrats of UNT president Billy Poer was an SGA senator and vice presidential candidate last year, and is one of the candidates to represent college political organizations. He said, in his experience, student organizations could be a better point of entry into student government.

“If student organizations are willing to send representatives and be a part of SGA, it could be a very effective branch,” he said. “Students identify with student organizations because it’s more inclusive. I think this will help students get involved with student government because there are fewer barriers to entry.”

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