EUSGA writes new constitution

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 at 11:05 PM

Student involvement is crucial for the Edinboro University Student Government Association (EUSGA). Currently, there are only 27 members in the organization, only 20 who are Congress members.

Over the course of the past two semesters, EUSGA members have completely revamped and revised its constitution, which essentially affects everyone and everything involved with the organization. But, according to parliamentarian Bethany Scott, student involvement will be significant for the future of EUSGA as the changes are implemented in fall 2016.

“I think we are moving forward in being more relevant and representative of the student body, [but] we have so many students here with so many interests. The more people who get involved in SGA, the better we can operate,” she said. “We could make better decisions and really better serve the student body if we have all that brainpower in one room.”

The Constitution

Scott wasn’t a member of the EUSGA Congress before accepting her position. She was recruited and accepted the position, maybe not realizing how much time she would spend in the second floor office at the Frank G. Pogue Student Center.

The parliamentarian’s responsibilities are to maintain order during Congress and executive board meetings and to ensure rules are followed and requirements are met internally and by over 150 EUSGA-funded student organizations.

The parliamentarian’s job is not to rewrite the constitution

. But that’s what Scott and other executive board members decided was needed for the future.

“Typically, you write your constitution, and it’s pretty solid. You might have an amendment every once in a while, but it’s [the job is] kind of just maintaining those documents,” Scott said.

The constitution, however, wasn’t “solid” and didn’t accurately reflect how SGA ran.

“You could just tell that it [the constitution] had just been played with every year, each time there was a new parliamentarian, a new person looking at it,” Scott said. “It was disjointed and just not properly written at all.

” She met weekly with the constitution committee — a small group of less than 10 individuals — throughout the fall 2015 semester. That’s when they completed most of the revisions. During this semester, the committee made revisions to their work based on congress suggestions.

“We looked at how we are operating now and wanted the document to reflect that,” Scott said. “We kind of took the old one, which was a mess, and restarted with a blank piece of paper, so now it’s much more accurate and easy to follow.”

“We started with the executive branch and reworked all that,” she continued. “And then legislative, judicial, and some other smaller pieces.”

In regards to the executive board, the positions were renamed and the campus programming director position was eliminated. With the change, EUSGA hopes to work more closely with the University Programming Board (UPB), which already plans campus events.

The legislative branch, or the congress, is currently open for any interested student to join. Those students who simply want to be involved will be able to participate next semester as part of the senate, but a house of representatives will also be added.

“I hope SGA will continue down the path we have started this year,” President of EUSGA William Galt said. “By that I mean finally implementing the house of representatives.”

The new house of representatives will include about 30 students, all of whom are representatives from “functional” campus groups — the residence life office, the campus life office. It will be led by a speaker of the house, someone chosen by congress.

The judicial board will handle any issues regarding the EUSGA. It will deal with attendance policies and other internal issues, but it will also affect recognized student organizations, as any rule violations will be handled through this branch.

Other pieces of the constitution address committees and student clubs. It will be effective as of July 1.

Scott will graduate in May and hopes her work while parliamentarian will make the job easier for future EUSGA executive board members. She wants to see people build on the “foundation” she hopes she has provided.

“I’ve put so many hours into these documents,” she said. “I’d like to see somebody take that and really execute it well."

New Executive Board

On Monday, April 25, the EUSGA heard recently elected president Antoinette Jackson’s nominations for executive board members and motioned to pass all five members. Last week, she held interviews for those positions.

“The group I am trying to put together has to be synergistic,” Jackson said.

Nicole Nissley, current director of public relations, was elected as the new vice president of student interests, renamed from the former vice president position. With her executive board experience, her passion and caring nature, as noted by Jackson, she was selected. Nissley would like to adhere to the student’s interest and would like for them to know what SGA is about.

For the vice president of procedures, Jackson chose Lauren Pierson because of her qualifications, her diligence and her passion. Pierson has seen the process in action so she is knowledgeable of her new duties. Pierson recently ran against Jackson for the president position.

The vice president of finance will be Alexander Moseley, who will take the seat of Tyler Jemetz, the current director of finance. Jemetz said that Moseley has been a “general asset.” Moseley’s goal is to clarify the finances.

He further stated that he doesn’t want people to think they can only talk to the finance committee and wants them to know that they can always reach out to him.

Caleb Richardson III was elected as the public relations director. Nissley, who previously held the position, stated that Richardson, “fits the role perfectly.”

Richardson explained he hopes to mend the sour views that the student body has on SGA. He will take on the task of informing all freshman about the organization. He intends to do this when the students first arrive to the campus, rather than a year or two later.

The final seat was for the role of secretary, which was bestowed to Leslie Colonello. Colonello became a member halfway through the year and despite not able to attend much of the congress meetings, Jackson stated that she is highly motivated and interested in the role.

Finance

Recognized clubs and organizations are able to submit budgets to EUSGA. A proposal fund is discussed by the finance committee, approved by congress, and if approved, sent to the university president to sign.

General fund requests begin with a presentation at the finance committee, a group with the power to approve anything that is under the limit of $5,000. If the request is more, it is then sent to congress to be voted on after the committee has first heard it.

EUSGA director of finance, Tyler Jemetz considers the finance committee to be the “expert” group.

“Denial often comes in the form of irrelevance to the organization or irrelevance to the student body,” Jemetz said.

But the lack of detail in a presentation can also lead to a denial. The finance committee’s job is to ask questions, and ultimately, if an organization hasn’t done its research, Jemetz says it becomes clear at this point. After the presentation, the committee members have an open discussion before telling the presenting organization its decision.

“If an organization can’t calculate costs or tell us where they are staying for an event, or assets they are purchasing, that shows that you haven’t done your research,” he said.

Following a meeting with the finance committee, any group can appeal within 48 hours to congress. The finance committee’s decision will be made known, but congress has the power to decide what happens.

“We understand that it’s a wider voice of student input,” Jemetz said.

The Future

Jackson says communication will be essential as EUSGA implements its changes.

“There has been a lack of communication internally and externally, which has hurt us greatly,” Jackson said.

She hopes the people she’s chosen for her executive board will work well as a team.

“I need people who will be diligent. They also need to be flexible,” she said. “With a new constitution, we have to be able to roll with whatever comes our way.”

In regards to the past two semesters, Galt says he refuses to take sole responsibility for anything that has been accomplished during his term.

“This year SGA functioned as a team rather than as individuals,” he said.

Executive board members are paid at a rate of $7.25 for 10 hours of work in a week. Jemetz says he has kept track of the time he spent in the office, and there have been weeks where he’s spent 35 hours in that room, “consistently working on SGA.”

“Time spent and effort invested isn’t measured in dollars, and I think I indicate that when I say I will spend 40 hours a week in this office working on projects for the SGA and bettering the SGA for the students,” he said. “There is far more time invested than money compensated, which is something I am still comfortable with.”

Galt will be graduating in May like Jemetz and Scott. He said that EUSGA needs to work towards solving the “problem of apathy” or indifference. Students contribute to the EUSGA’s budget — a budget that is then divided between the recognized clubs and organizations — as part of their student activity fee.

Galt believes that new student orientation is key. “We could become more involved with making every student’s first impression of Edinboro a good one.”

“I hope and will urge the next executive board to stay involved in the freshman orientation program to be present for the next freshmen class,” Galt said.

“But that is only a portion of the problem. As for the rest, we are constantly working to improve our relationship with clubs and organizations.”

Building off that, Jackson said, “More than anything, I would encourage people to speak up and be heard.”

“Nothing can change if nothing is done. Let us know what concerns you have,” she continued. “Please come talk to me.”

Management wise, Galt would like to see “the university take more of a backseat and give us a little bit more of the autonomy that we used to have.” He understands and appreciates the help to get the SGA “back on its feet.” However, he believes SGA has done this over the school year and is “ready for the change.”

In regards to all the changes next year’s EUSGA will implement, Scott reiterated the importance of involvement. Congress meetings are held Monday evenings at 6 p.m. in the Pogue MPR B room, and the finance committee meetings are held on Fridays at 4 p.m. in the SGA office. Jemetz said he and other SGA members excitedly welcome new members to attend these meetings.

“We are making progress, and we really just need the involvement to execute all of those new plans,” Scott said.

Tracy Geibel is the Executive Editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at edinboro.spectator@gmail.com. Andy Vest is a Senior Staff Writer for The Spectator.

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