SGA ethics an issue

Staff Editorial

The proposed Student Government Association constitution is an inherently flawed document that legislators tried to rush through the senate and are now trying to rush through a vote by the student body and the Board of Regents.

Its flaws include, but are not limited to: the consolidation of SGA power over student organizations, the reduction of the influential executive board from five to three officers, and a meetings policy that defies Kentucky state law.

The Northerner has previously addressed the constitution’s flaws, and legislators have revised the document multiple times to correct its legal and ethical errors.

It has also, however, left loopholes that could give SGA excessive and illegal power in the future.

The editorial board of The Northerner filed an appeal of the constitution Mar. 1 with the Dean of Students’ office on the grounds that it violates Kentucky open meetings law.

The opinions of the editorial board are determined by a majority vote among section editors and senior staff members.

The board determined that Article 5, Section 1 of the proposed constitution violates Kentucky open meetings law because it allows for a quorum, or majority, of SGA members to hold meetings that are closed to the public.

Kentucky open meetings law explicitly states that a quorum cannot meet in a session closed to the public, even if it does not plan to conduct business.

Although the constitution provides a convenient disclaimer that “Nothing in this constitution shall be construed…as to be in conflict with law (federal or state),”the proposed meetings policy does exactly that.

When questioned on the discrepancy, SGA President Chris Pace offered the following explanation: “It’s always been in there.”

For an administration that claims as its goal to effect a positive change for students, that statement represents a painful dereliction of duty to students.

Could it logically be concluded, then, that the proposed constitution could hold further oversights and loopholes?

The most powerful student organization on campus has drafted and approved, in only two short months, a document that would change its structure and give it more influence over fellow student organizations and their funding structures.

It would like to slide these astronomical changes under the noses of the student body and the Board of Regents by rushing the document into a special student election that, though slated to take place this week, has not been publicized or even announced.

Should the student body or Board of Regents approve a document that was hastily revised and hurriedly presented to the senate for a vote and contains material that, though questionable, “has always been there?”

Senators received the final draft of the document only 48 hours before the special student vote Feb. 18.

Although this adheres perfectly to SGA policy, one must wonder why more time for reflection was not given to senators on such a groundbreaking vote.

When it comes to student government, student involvement has historically been poor.

Only 348 students, approximately 2.4 percent of the student body, voted in the Nov. 12 and 13 SGA senate elections.

Perhaps, in failing to publicize a student body vote on such a revolutionary constitution, student legislators are hoping for a similarly low turnout this week in order to quietly pass a poorly thought-out document that will effect momentous change for years to come.

We may have many closed-door SGA meetings to look forward to in the future.