SGA to consider bill restructuring elections for student senators

SGA Vice President of Student Senate Jerod Sharp, pictured left, presides over the fifth Senate meeting of the semester on Monday, November 18. (Scott Young/The Chanticleer)SGA Vice President of Student Senate Jerod Sharp, pictured left, presides over the fifth Senate meeting of the semester on Monday, November 18. (Scott Young/The Chanticleer)

Miranda Prescott, Correspondent

The Jacksonville State University Student Government Association voted on Monday to table debate on revisions to the SGA Code of Laws that would change the voting procedures for student senators.

The amendment holds that student senators will reserve seats for two representatives from each school, one seat for a transfer student, and one for a graduate student from the Graduate Studies Unit. 

Schools with seats reserved are the Schools of Arts and Humanities, Business and Industry, Education, Health Professions and Wellness, Human Services and Social Sciences, and Science.

Any remaining seats after are considered “at-large.” With these seats, there are no specific requirements for representation other than the outside requirements to run for Student Senate. Of the amendment passes, there will be 30 voting seats in total.

The amendments proposed also will affect the requirements for eligibility for a Student Senate seat and requirements during their term.

The bill was authored by Vice President of Student Senate Jerod Sharp and Student Senators Cindy Danini and Matt Reed. 

“This will allow more representation for the schools on campus, instead of the top 30 vote winners during general elections,” said Sharp.

The transfer student seat will allow students who transfer from another university or community college to be represented in the Student Senate. If the bill passes, that seat will be elected on the general ballot.

“Transfer students are one of the most underrepresented groups on campus,” said Sharp. “Transfer students will only be allowed to vote on those who run as a transfer student to ensure they have accurate representation.”

Students running for the Student Senate would only be allowed to run for one specific seat. On the application, students would have to mark which school they would be representing or if they are running for an at-large seat.

Voting for Student Senators in specific schools would begin with the spring election of 2021.

“Students running for the Senate seat in their specific schools would only have to campaign within the population of their schools,” said Sharp. “Those running for the at-large seats or other offices will be on the general ballot.”

“One of the big pros for this bill is that it makes elections more accessible for the little man.” said Student Senator Justin Jones. “However, one of the biggest cons is that people will not be as willing to run in the elections in those at-large seats.”

“We cannot find cabinet members for some schools,” said Senator Adam McNeal. “If we cannot find members for these cabinet positions, how will we be able to find senators for these schools?” 

“In my time in SGA, that has been a constant problem. Even after general elections, there are constantly more appointments being made due to people resigning as they feel that they are not getting anything done.” said Sharp. “The presidential cabinet is very trial-and-error and was passed very recently, which can cause the representation to be unequal.”

The debate will continue at the next Student Senate meeting on March 16 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the Theron Montgomery Building.

Other business

In addition to the amendments, a bill was passed unanimously to appoint Jewelshia Johnson as an SGA Student Senator for the remainder of the academic year.

A resolution was passed unanimously to nominate Dr. Benjie Blair for the SGA Golden Apple Award. Blair has been teaching for 21 years and “has shown his dedication to the university and students through his involvement as faculty sponsor of the premedical American Medical Student Association Chapter.” according to the resolution. Upon the passing of the resolution, a copy will be sent to Blair; Dr. Lori Hensley, the JSU biology department head; Dr. Tim Lindblom, the dean of the School of Science; Dr. Micheal Boyton, president of the faculty senate and Veronica Bjorkman, assistant dean of students.

Finally, a resolution was passed unanimously to reconsider any further attempts to distribute space and resources at the Houston-Cole Library. This resolution will allow the student body to be in consideration for any changes made to the available spaces inside the facility.

“It is the belief of the student body, that the Houston Cole Library is losing resources as the University attempts to implement non-library related classrooms, offices, and programming,” the resolution reads.

“I think this space is very precious,” said Student Senator Destiny Paris-Cartwright, author of the resolution. “We want to keep the space we have now open to our students.”

Upon the passing of this resolution, a copy will be sent to John-Bauer Graham, Dean of the Houston Cole Library, Terry Casey, the Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Tim King, Vice President of Student Success, and Veronica Bjorkman.

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