North Texas Daily

Shrinking SGA Senate struggles with passing legislation after fifth meeting on Wednesday

Shrinking SGA Senate struggles with passing legislation after fifth meeting on Wednesday

Shrinking SGA Senate struggles with passing legislation after fifth meeting on Wednesday
October 11
10:38 2019

The SGA Senate wrapped up its fifth meeting of the semester last Wednesday evening without reviewing or passing legislation, after repeated calls from SGA executives telling senators to come forward with ideas and proposals.

Only one resolution has appeared before the senate so far this session. Three weeks ago, the organization reviewed a resolution aiming to reform drug policy at UNT, but a co-author, CLASS Senator Devon Skinner, rescinded the proposal before a vote could take place.

SGA Vice President Hillary Shah is now telling senators to pick up the pace.

“I need people to start doing things,” Shah said. “Start talking about initiatives, start meeting your office hours and making sure you’re doing things during that. It’s October and we need to get our act together.”

The dry spell of legislation may end soon if SGA representatives can advance their current plans.

Senator Skinner plans to introduce a revamped version of the rescinded drug resolution he said may appear before senators in the coming weeks.

SGA President Yolian Ogbu mentioned writing her own legislation with Strategic Planning Director Brightyn Patterson to advance their ongoing effort to raise the minimum wage for student workers. Ogbu did not offer specifics on the timeline or scope of the legislation during her remarks, but invited senators to co-sponsor the bill.

Patterson and Ogbu have worked on other SGA initiatives outside the senate, like a student housing survey and information service that may roll out sometime next semester. Additionally, the president mentioned plans to establish a UNT chapter of Extinction Rebellion, an environmental activism group, and expanding the use of student emergency funds provided by the Dean of Students office.

Honors College Senator Angie Whistler said she is working on a survey and a public forum for students to voice their opinions about UNT’s use of eminent domain on several Avenue C properties.

Still, the senate faces an attendance problem that Shah claims is hindering progress with legislation. Wednesday’s meeting saw 15 out of 27 senators make roll-call — one person more than the minimum attendance required to reach a quorum according to the SGA Constitution.

Five former senators lost their seats due to absences after last week’s meeting, bringing the number of vacant senate positions to 18. Shah said SGA executives are still processing forms from students vying for senate appointments to fill vacancies.

New rules could boost retention rates in the Senate. Senators discussed and amended a proposed update on the SGA Senate code of conduct, put forward by Shah, that includes provisions for excused absences. Those rules could take effect as early as next week if passed.

“We need to start showing up to these meetings,” Shah said “I understand the agenda is a little dry, but that’s not because of me. That’s because there hasn’t been any resolutions initiated … I can’t take your hand and force you to write something. I can’t wave your hand and ask you to start participating.”

The SGA Senate meets at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday in the Union, room 332.

Featured Image: SGA senators listen to reports from committee chairs during their meeting on Oct. 10, 2019. Image by Carter Mize

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Carter Mize

Carter Mize

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