Last semester, the Student Government Association (SGA) updated its bylaws, resulting in a new “Council of Organizations” meeting to take place during their first Tuesday meeting of every month. A representative from each of the 250+ organizations on campus must attend this SGA meeting.
The meetings generally begin at 7:15 p.m. in the Sykes Theater, though check-in takes place around 6:45 p.m. At this meeting, SGA presents their information to the group. At the October meeting, this included a brief speech from a Public Safety officer explaining a plan for an increased presence during homecoming weekend. Meetings have lasted around an hour.
At the end of the meeting, the floor is open for representatives from each organization to introduce themselves, talk about their upcoming events, etc.
This is a huge change for SGA, as in the past, “SGA has solely been responsible for two things: approving potential new student organizations, as well as giving budgets to student organizations,” according to the 2013-2014 president of SGA, Jared Epstein’s official public statement on the matter.
By having these Council of Organization’s meetings, Epstein said that SGA will be better doing its job and serving the campus. Previously, SGA had “appointed senators” which were less efficient, as they did not capture the opinion of the entire student body. Now, these meetings will be able to better capture the voice of the whole student body.
The collaborative nature of the new meetings will allow clubs to work together. “I think that the Council of Organizations is a wonderful creation by SGA. At the end of the first meeting, SGA opened the floor to club representatives so that they could talk about the events their clubs were holding or planning. I thought that this was a great idea because it allows clubs to publicize their events to other clubs on campus. This could create an environment where similar clubs who do not usually collaborate could start helping or co-sponsor each other’s events,” said Stephanie Frasca, a senior.
For some students, however, the Tuesday meeting time interferes with their general club meetings and can be difficult to attend. It is required, however, to send at least one representative.
According to the SGA by-laws, “If an organization fails to attend this meeting with no written excuse to the Secretary within 48 hours, this organization will be suspended by the SGA until the commencement of the next Council of Organizations, meaning all SSI accounts will be frozen, and the organization will not be able to reserve space on campus.” Organizations also must submit an official, short report before the meeting.
The meetings will also serve the purpose of allowing SGA to present information to the larger student body before enacting new decisions. Epstein explained that SGA will bring up governing issues of campus in front of the Council of Organizations to “give the Senate a better idea of what the students want.”
For example, Epstein explained, “this change is necessary” because when Tom Clark, interim Director of Facilities for WCU, presented the new academic quad proposal to the Active Senate last year, they “loved it and gave him a unanimous decision to go on with the project.” Social media reactions to the project, however, were less than positive.
Epstein said, “If Mr. Clark was able to present to a more accurate representation of the University, like the Council of Organizations, he would have had a better idea of what the students would like to see on campus.”
Students interested in attending the Council of Organizations meeting as a representative for a club they are involved with should speak to the executive board about details. The next meetings are Tuesday, Nov. 4 and Tuesday, Dec. 2.
Theresa Kelly is a third-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. She can be reached at TK780615@wcupa.edu.