Low attendance and constitution revisions hot topics at SGA meetings

By: Quincy Fuehne

This is the second Student Government Association administration in a row that feels it needs to make changes to the organization’s constitution.

The current presidents are pleased with the layout of the constitution that was introduced under former President Gino Grivetti, but also recognize its faults.

Co-President Abigail Moore thinks the group needs to amend the constitution to fit the needs of having two presidents and two vice presidents and how the roles are handled. The existing constitution does not address procedures or policies of an administration with two presidents or vice presidents.

“The constitution is really something that I hope the students are able to understand, so they can realize how exactly student government is able to help them,” Moore said.

Argana has more plans for adjusting the constitution.

“There are minimal things we would like to change, like being able to use window paint on the windows, just bring more pride on campus by being able to decorate and just revamp the look a little more,” Argana said.

Argana would also like to provide students who are not senators more of a say in the organization.

SGA plans to write revisions at upcoming meetings.

Senator Attendance

Members present at Oct. 5 meeting: EJ Baker, Fallon Myers, Kayla Cheney, and student guest.

Argana also discussed the low senator attendance.

No more than four senators have been in attendance at each meeting this school year.

While Argana and Moore express frustration with low senator attendance, Argana says they cannot force anyone to be there.

“If they are true advocates for the school and they want to see change, they will come to the meetings. So it is up to them, we can’t do everything for them,” Argana stated.

Moore and Argana, along with Co-Vice Presidents Fallon Myers and EJ Baker, plan to meet with prospective senators before appointing them to the senate. Some students have shown an interest in SGA at the club and organization fair or expressed interest directly to an SGA member.

The executive board hosted a meeting with some prospects on October 3 in the private dining room. Five people showed up.

The constitution states that the senate must approve each appointee.

Senator Proposals

At recent meetings, the governing body has discussed legislative initiatives. The members are supposed to come up with at least one proposal describing how they want to improve campus.

Five members who have been attending meetings have submitted proposals.

Senator Kayla Cheney proposed purchasing a new refrigerator for the commuter lounge.

“Currently food does not stay properly refrigerated in the commuter lounge,” Cheney said during the meeting September 28.

Cheney, who is a commuter, also says the current refrigerator has a strange odor. The refrigerator she proposed will have more room for students that utilize it according the Cheney. It also has a freezer section and costs between $400 and $500.

Myers proposed purchasing equipment for all students to use at the new pickleball courts on campus.

One of Baker’s proposals included revamping the radio station in Francis Hall. He would like to provide students with the opportunity to record podcasts since the room is there with equipment inside.

Moore mentioned that the current equipment in the room might be outdated.

Moore had a list of proposals. One of her proposals was to figure out parking for students. She feels too many students are receiving tickets for parking on streets surrounding campus that are near where they live.

Argana would like to add an outdoor place on campus, like a gazebo, where students can hangout and relax. Myers mentioned a pergola for an option.

Argana is still unsure of where she would place this hangout spot.

Neither Argana or Moore discussed proposals for the old Hawks Hangout. While campaigning, Argana stated she wished to turn it into a coffee shop while Moore wanted to turn it into a community kitchen for students.

While all of these proposals plan to improve the campus, the governing body cannot vote on any of them without twelve senators in attendance according to the constitution.

SGA meets on Friday’s at 1:00 p.m. in the Gray Gallery in the Brenner Library.

Upcoming Meeting Dates:

Oct. 19
Oct. 26
Nov. 2
Nov. 9
Nov. 16
Nov. 30
Dec. 7

Current Constitution

The current Executive Officers were a part of the SGA governing body at the time of the 2017-2018 revision of the organization’s constitution.

Constitutions can be confusing and hard to understand. Here is an interpretation by QU Media of the Quincy University Student Government Association Constitution.

Preamble

The Quincy University Student Senate, seeking to further the mission, Catholic and Franciscan values, educational goals, enhance the social and community opportunities, and promote the general welfare of the University, do hereby establish the Quincy University Student Government Association as the self-governing representative body of all Quincy University students. The purpose of the Student Senate shall be to provide a forum for student opinion and to promote student involvement in the affairs of the University. Furthermore, the Student Government shall serve to facilitate communication between students, faculty, and administrative staff and act as the official representatives of the Quincy University student body. The Student Government shall also act as a protector of student rights and as a promoter of qualitative improvements in all areas of student life. Finally, the Student Senate shall take all measures necessary to provide for its own continuance which are consistent with its stated purpose and with the policies of the University.

The Preamble states the governing body’s reason and mission.

The student senate is the “self-governing representative body” of the students at Quincy University. It provides a meeting space for students to voice opinion and encourage students to get involved in the university.

It stands to make communication between students and staff and faculty easier.

It will do everything to continue running while operating according to its purposes stated later in the constitution as well as the university’s policies.

Article I. Name

The name of the student self-governing body of Quincy University shall by the Quincy University Student Senate or the Student Government Association, also referred to as QU SGA.

This portion states the official name and abbreviation of the organization. 

Article II. Purpose

The purpose of the association shall be to represent the student population at Quincy University by addressing the needs, problems, and concerns of the student body and to promote student involvement and community formation. In addition, the association shall act as a liaison between the student body and the administration of the University. Additionally, the association will hold fiduciary responsibility of Student Government financial accounts.

This states the association’s purpose at QU, which mainly includes representing the student body. The purpose is similar to the Preamble, but includes the fact that it is responsible for handling its own finances.

The SGA receives a budget from the Office of Student Engagement and can receive donations.

It recently received a donation from the Advancement Office from money raised at a VIP section at homecoming according to Co-President Mary Argana.

Article III. Members

A. All students attending Quincy University shall be non-voting members of the association.

B. Senate 

1. Sixteen (12) voting senators shall be elected at-large from the student body.

C. Executive Officers

  1. President: the president shall convene and preside over meetings of the senate. The president may approve or veto measures passed by the senate.
  2. Vice-President: the vice-president will be elected on a single ticket with the president. The vice-president may preside over meetings of the senate when the president is unable. The vice-president may vote only in the event of a tie.
  3. Other Cabinet Officers: other officers may be appointed by the president and approved by the senate. Senators may concurrently serve in a cabinet position. 

D. Committees

  1. Committees, standing and temporary, may be formed by a simple majority vote of the senate.

E. Qualifications

  1. All members of the association (officers and senators) must be in good standing with the University.

F. Vacancies and Removal

  1. In the event of a vacancy in the senate, a replacement may be appointed by the president and approved by the senate.
  2. Any member may be removed from office by a seven-eighths (3/4) majority vote (9 out of 12 votes in favor).

G. Elections

  1. Members shall be elected by a simple majority of ballots cast.
  2. The president and vice-president shall be elected on a single ticket by a simple majority of ballots cast.
  3. Elections shall be held two weeks prior to Thanksgiving Break. Polling stations will be open for up to (3) three days with the results announced on the third day.
  4. Transfer of power shall occur two weeks prior to Spring Break with the Inauguration of new officers taking place at the final meeting of the prior administration.
  5. Graduating members shall retain voting power until commencement.

This article calls for the election of sixteen senators (B.1.), and even though there is no explanation in the document, the (12) indicates how many senators need to be present to conduct a vote.

Any student can attend an SGA meeting, but if you are not a senator, you cannot participate in voting. Students can voice their concerns and problems and propose new ideas to the senate.

The senate should be made up of sixteen senators. The body needs twelve senators to be present to vote on a topic.

The current senate has 8 members. The presidents are looking to appoint new members.

Traditionally speaking, senators are elected by a majority of ballots cast. There are special cases where the president can appoint a senator.

The “Executive Officers” include the president, vice president and other cabinet members. Cabinet member positions are created by the president.

This constitution is not written to explain what would happen in case of a tie during the election and having co-presidents and co-vice presidents, which is the current situation of the SGA.

The president runs the meeting. He or she can approve or veto something passed by the senate. If the senate passes legislation, the president can prevent it from going through.

In case of an empty spot, or a vacancy, in the senate, the president can nominate a replacement which is then approved by the senate. That person takes office immediately following approval.

The vice president can run a meeting of the senate if the president is absent. That person can vote only if there is a tie.

Those running for president and vice president must run on a single ticket. This means that they are a package deal or run with a partner. Whatever duo gets the highest numbers of vote (by ballot) wins the election.

Other cabinet officers are chosen by the president and approved by the senate. Senators can act as senators while also holding a cabinet position.

Committees can be formed as temporary or long term groups. Committees are “formed by a simple majority vote of the senate”.

A simple majority vote means that it does not need all senators in favor, but it needs a greater number in favor.

Senators and officers “must be in good standing with the university”. It is unclear what the group considers to be in good standing.

The previous constitution provided more rules for good standing in the “Removal” section.

On the election application from November 2017, which was when current members were voted into office, the requirements stated that the person had to be a full time student in good standing and be enrolled as a full time student during his or her officer term.

A member can be removed from office with a 9-3 vote in favor of removing that person.

This means 9 out of the 12 senators have to vote that person out of their position.

Elections are held 2 weeks before Thanksgiving break. Polling stations are open for 3 days with results presented on that third day. This year Thanksgiving break is Nov. 19-23. That means elections should be scheduled for Oct. 29- Nov. 2. 

Officers do not take over power until 2 weeks before spring break, which is March 11-15 this year. That means the new senate and officers would take office Feb. 25, 2019. The inauguration will happen at the last meeting of the previous administration. 

Members graduating can keep their voting power until graduation.

Article IV. Motions

A. Motions may only be passed at a scheduled meeting of the association.

B. A motion must receive a second in order to be considered.

C. A simple majority may pass ordinary motions.

D. A quorum of senators must be present to pass a binding motion. A quorum is defined as nine (9) senators.

E. Amendments to this Constitution and removal of members must have at least a seven eighths (3/4) majority vote (9 out of 12 votes in favor).

Motions are formal proposals, or plans.

These can only be passed at a scheduled meeting and it has to have a second backing of the motion to be considered.

A simple majority can pass “ordinary motions”.

A quorum, or 9 nine senators, must be present to pass a binding motion.

There are currently only eight senators.

Amendments can be made to the constitution with 9-3 vote in favor.

Special Guidelines for Motions to Disburse Association Funds:

F. Special guidelines for motions to disburse association funds:

  1. All disbursements of funds must be in accordance with University financial policies.
  2. Disbursements may only be made to registered student organizations (RSOs) in good standing with the University.
  3. Disbursements may not cover travel or lodging expenses.
  4. Proof of purchase (receipt, invoice, etc.) must be provided for all disbursements.

All disbursements, or payments from a fund, need to align with the university financial policies.

Only registered student organizations (RSOs) can receive disbursements. Those RSOs should be in good standing. To start or renew your club or organization, you can visit the Student Success Center.

The funds given to RSOs cannot cover travel or lodging. If an RSO wants to go to a convention, for example, it must figure out how to pay for travel costs on its own as well as where they will stay. Although, the SGA will cover at least a portion of the convention cost if approved.

RSOs that receive disbursements must have proof of purchase. This includes, but is not limited to, receipts, invoices and other statements that show how and where the money was spent.

Article V. Ethics Statement

All members of the Quincy University Student Government shall value honesty, fairness, flexibility, responsibility, communication, responsiveness, collaboration, commitment, professionalism, commitment to diversity, and service. Guided by the Catholic and Franciscan values of Quincy University, these ideals will shape the work of the Student Senate and of its individual members.

Members of the QU SGA are held to high ethical standards as the governing student body. They should be honest, fair, committed and professional among many other standards. The constitution also states that the governing body is “guided by the Catholic and Franciscan values of Quincy University“.

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