With the recent election of Luke King, we can move forward into a new era of Gannon’s SGA. I’m certainly excited to see everything happen over the next year. And, of course, I’ll be there to report on everything. Luke, if you’re reading this now, I strongly advise you to adopt the mantle of constitutional reform. Not only will it leave a lasting legacy for you, but it will also increase the amount of student engagement, which you mentioned you wanted to do several times during the campaign.
I love SGA and how they can potentially impact Gannon University in great ways. However, as of late, I’m not sure if the current structure of the organization is conducive for the type of deliberative body SGA wants to – and should – be.
Ultimately, the goal of SGA is to be a voice for the students. The students themselves should be the core of the deliberative body. With the current structure, this is almost impossible. The focus is on the president, with a team of vice presidents flanking him at every meeting.
The students should wield the largest chunk of power. On the other hand, the president and executive board should have the most power in what they are elected for: administrative issues.
In my mind, SGA should return to the roots of democracy – direct democracy, just as the Greeks had it. My point is that there is no “catch-all” representative that is going to be able to cater to all of our individual viewpoints. Therefore, let’s open up the general assembly meetings and allow anyone to vote. Allow anyone to participate. Encourage anyone to initiate policy. (Note: “Anyone” is defined as any undergraduate student.)
I’m also suggesting that we expand on SGA to create an “upper house.” These representatives would be elected, just as the current class representatives are now. Reduce the number of representatives, call them senators, and everyone is happy. The new “senate” would then be in charge of setting the agenda for all general assembly meetings, and must attend all general assembly meetings. Similarly, the senate would be able to appeal any decision or policy initiated by the general assembly. I would also recommend a few changes to the executive board:
- Merge the vice president of public relations and vice president of technology into one new position: VP of community engagement.
- Keep the president as is – a position voted for by the student body – but have him only run the senate meetings, and any other functions they currently perform.
- Change vice president of academic affairs to “speaker of the GA.” This position would not be elected by the student body, but rather by the newly elected senate at the end of the spring semester. The position would entail all of its current duties and would also be in charge of running the general assembly meetings.
- Make both the secretary and parliamentarian appointed by the president, with approval from the senate and general assembly.
- Rename “treasurer” as “VP of finance” for consistency, and have that position as well as the VP of clubs and organizations and the VP of community engagement elected by the senate and ratified by the general assembly.
- Severely limit the powers of the executive board. The e-board should be an administrative arm of SGA, not a policy creator.
By consolidating the executive board and putting more emphasis on the president and speaker of the GA, SGA will not only see an increase in voter turnout, but also greater participation overall.
To summarize, here are the changes I’d love to see take effect in the SGA:
- Expand the general assembly to include all undergraduate students.
- Cut the number of class representatives and give the new “senate” the power to review all policy created in the general assembly.
- Consolidate the executive board.
- Rename “treasurer” as “VP of finance” for consistency, and have that position as well as the VP of clubs and organizations and the VP of community engagement elected by the senate.
- Make the VP of academic affairs the “speaker of the general assembly” and have this position elected by the senate.
This new system, in my mind, would be a seamless combination of the best aspects of both the Greek democracy and the British parliamentary system. The advantages are there, and it wouldn’t be that difficult to move into this formalized system. As I said before, not only would this increase participation and awareness with SGA, but would also increase the legitimacy of the organization because any student would have the opportunity to attend a meeting and participate.
I’d appreciate any thoughts and input on this plan. Keep in mind, this is just a plan and specifics shouldn’t be discussed. I’m sure I have some mistakes in here, and that’s why I’m not king of SGA.
Now who’s up for a constitutional convention?