SGA members defend low number of passed legislation

Photo by Jenny Rohl

Story by Destinee Marking, Staff writer

 

Murray State’s SGA Student Senate passed two pieces of legislation in the last year, a low number in comparison to the student governments of surrounding schools.

Clint Combs, former SGA president, said out of the two pieces of legislation passed, one of them affected the student body and the other concerned SGA.

According to Western Kentucky University’s website, during the 2016-17 academic year, Western Kentucky’s SGA passed 66 pieces of legislation.

In recent weeks, Western Kentucky’s SGA passed resolutions to support diversity, hate crime and sexual assault training for the Western Kentucky University Police Department and a resolution supporting the expansion of vegetarian and vegan food options on campus.

A majority of the legislation passed at Western Kentucky pertains to the student body.

According to Austin Peay State University’s website, at least 15 pieces of legislation concerning the student body were passed.

Austin Peay State University’s SGA voted to support an athletic fee increase and to install additional surveillance cameras in student housing.

Combs said over the past few years, many issues were discussed, but Murray State’s SGA tends to utilize private meetings to solve the issues brought to them.

“For the longest time our student government didn’t handle issues with legislation,” Combs said. “They took the quieter approach to get things accomplished. I try to schedule a meeting to see if we can do something. For instance, we just recently had a meeting to allow some academic suspended students the ability to use counseling services, so they can continue to have mental health options until they are eligible to return to school”

Combs said during his presidency, he encouraged more public discussion, but it is a change that will take time.

As for programs, Combs said SGA had a hand in putting on the Presidential Lecture series, free events in the Curris Center throughout the year and various concerts.

Connor Moore, Murray State SGA election ways and means chairman, said he has heard criticisms about the Student Senate.

“In the last SGA, SGA had been criticized as being stagnate, by people that aren’t aware of the impact SGA has,” Moore said.

Moore said the organization’s main focus has been updating the SGA constitution and bylaws.

“We are taking outdated terms and replacing them,” Moore said. “For example, instead of ‘secretary’ it’s now ‘vice president of administration.’”

At the April 26 SGA meeting, the senate voted to pass amendments that change senate membership requirements; the grade point average requirement is now 2.0 as opposed to the previous 2.5.

Tori Wood, SGA president, said she believes there is always room for improvement, but SGA depends on student input to know what changes to make.

“I’m hopeful that if a student feels as if our work is inadequate or they want to see a change, they will come to us,” Wood said.

Wood said SGA cannot represent the student body if students are not sharing concerns and opinions.

“It is perfectly OK to see issues or challenges on campus,” Wood said. “They exist and should be addressed.”