New rules, members slow SGA progress

by Beacon Staff • December 12, 2007

But there have also been shake-ups with the organization's most basic procedures, as members at meetings are now required to formally propose motions when they want something discussed.,The Student Government Association at Emerson has accomplished a lot over the past two years, from the creation of several new positions to the election of its first freshman president, Scott Fisher, government members said.

But there have also been shake-ups with the organization's most basic procedures, as members at meetings are now required to formally propose motions when they want something discussed.

Class of 2009 Senator Alli Bizon said this has caused a homegrown problem for the board to tackle: its own rules.

"Even though we have the knowledge and the experience, we're still getting used to it," said Bizon, a communication sciences and disorders major.

The expansion of membership and bureaucracy has slowed the SGA's legislative process and the student Senate, a six-person SGA subgroup, has sent the executive board a list of suggestions for streamlining meetings, including improving attendance and cutting down on unrelated chatter. The executive board includes Fisher, vice president Samantha Baime and chief justice Jeff Foster. Baime is the Beacon's photo editor and the Senate president.]

The board has introduced a slew of new methods for shaping discussion after a motion has been proposed: an "inquiry" allows questions; "speak to" entails an endorsement for the proposal; "speak against" signifies opposition.

Fisher said he feels the procedures serve a useful purpose for the association, despite slowing their work.

"It can be aggravating at times, but they're a necessary evil," he said. "It's frustrating to get the right wording, but if you pass the motion with the wrong wording then what do you do?"

Bizon said the Senate, a subgroup of SGA consisting of six senators, is usually able to accomplish more than the SGA. Senate meetings are smaller and less structured, which allows the group to accomplish more. Currently, there are 27 members in the SGA, one for each academic department and class.

Jay MacFadgen, class of 2008 president, said the strict structure of SGA meetings is needed to impose order on such a large group of people, and that time lost in procedural debates-like determining motion titles-does not hinder what SGA accomplishes in the long run.

The association has identified several major goals for next semester, among them increasing motion productivity. It also wants to increase communication with students via an new SGA newsletter and Web site and bring more lecturers to campus.

This semester, the SGA gave money to the EVVY's, Emerson's annual awards show, when it went over budget, as reported in The Beacon on Nov. 29. The Senate also sent a letter to Dean of Students Ronald Ludman with concerns about students smoking outside the Little Building, requesting benches and lights be placed at the back entrance to encourage smokers to relocate.

Sophomore Ren Long, who is not in student government, said she recalled SGA's involvement in getting the letter sent to Ludman.

"My friend had the request last year about smoking outside the Little Building," the writing, literature and publishing major said. "He told someone in SGA, and she actually brought it up at the meeting. It was a ridiculous request-he wanted heating lamps for smokers, but it was cool that she brought it up."

Organizational and political communication senator Monica Casanova said many of these achievements go unnoticed by the general student body. Over the past week, members of the board "tabled," or gathered outside the Little Building dining hall, to collect feedback directly from the student body concerning their issues or suggestions for the college. After three days of tabling, the SGA received more than 200 comment cards.

"A lot of this is misconception that we're not doing anything," the sophomore said, "when really the student body doesn't see these accomplishments."