SGA leaves senate seats empty

SGA leaves senate seats empty

SGA leaves senate seats empty
October 15
11:38 2015

Sarah Lagro | Staff Writer

@lagroski

Student Government Association has been operating this semester with numerous vacant seats in its Student Senate. The underrepresentation of the undergraduate student population is a concern for student legislators, and comes at a time when SGA is working to increase its presence on campus.

Engineering junior Alejandro Rivas said underrepresentation in the association could pose serious issues.

“I do not feel the presence of SGA at all within the College of Engineering,” Rivas said, “especially since there’s only one voice speaking on behalf of the whole program.”

The Student Constitution says the senate is supposed to consist of 45 senators, but the senate currently has 33 student legislators representing their colleges.

The College of Arts and Sciences, College of Visual Arts and Design, College of Public Affairs and Community Service, Honors College and Mayborn School of Journalism have full representation.

The College of Business, College of Music and College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism have one vacant seat.

The College of Engineering occupies one of four available seats and the College of Education currently fills three of five senate seats.

Not represented in the senate this semester are the College of Information and the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science. According to the Student Constitution, it is required that each school, college and academy be appointed at least one senate seat.

“It’s hard to fill seats when those students are mostly outside of the UNT community,” SGA director of student affairs Dawaelyne Jones said. “We would welcome anyone from the College of Information that wants to represent their college, but it’s difficult when most of their classes are online.”

For fiscal year 2016, SGA received a budget increase from the Student Services Committee, a committee on which former SGA president Kam Willard served as chair. In FY15, SGA was given $104,942. In FY16, the budget shows $122,113 for the organization.

Jones said SGA vice president Chris Lee reached out to TAMS at the beginning of the fall semester, but Jones is unsure of how those students should be represented. He also said it takes effort to be a senator and students should know what they are getting into.

“We want engaged people that want to make UNT better,” Jones said. “The last thing we need is to appoint senators who just want a label for themselves. You’ve got to work if you want to be there.”

Jones said students are interested in SGA, but the process of being appointed to a senator position often causes them to change their minds.

A student that wants to be a member of the senate must fill out an application on the SGA OrgSync and gather the names and ID numbers of 25 students from their respective colleges. If a student wants to represent a different college than his or her own, they must get the same information from 50 students in that college.

SGA is composed of executive, legislative and judicial branches. Along with the Senate, the House of Representatives complete the legislative branch. Criminal justice senior Manolo Munoz said he was a member of the house.

It is uncertain whether the house will be a part of SGA moving forward, as several SGA members have said they want to disband the chamber.

“I think the idea of having a House of Representatives for student organizations in SGA is a good idea,” Munoz said. “It could do great things.”

The house is comprised of 40 delegates from registered student organizations. The house is intended to check the senate and executive branch and has the authority to sponsor senate legislation on behalf of student organizations. The house does not produce legislation.

According to the by-laws, the executive branch is expected to host the UNT SGA Student Leadership Summit during spring semester. During this summit, all registered student organizations are encouraged to send one representative and one nominee to contend for a seat in the house.

Jones said the student body will be able to vote on a referendum on whether or not to remove the house from SGA’s legislative branch.

“SGA is focusing on bringing the senate up to par,” Jones said. “I personally feel that a House of Representatives doesn’t help the association at all. It’s difficult to deal with both bodies when one doesn’t have a purpose.”

Munoz said he has nothing but respect and admiration for SGA and that they use every minute of their meetings to discuss what is best for the student body. He also said the house was the only arena on campus where student organizations came to work together.

“I only wish it was given a chance to do what it was actually supposed to do,” Munoz said. “Cutting down doesn’t seem like the answer.”

Featured Image: Paulina De Alva | Staff Photographer

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