SGA weeks behind in posting minutes to website

by Beacon Staff • October 20, 2011

Constitutions are not framed by accident. In student organizations, as in government, the decisions made and language used by the framers is deliberate. As more than a set of suggestions, adhering to constitutional mandates is necessary to any organization’s legitimacy.

In Article IV, Section III of the Student Government Association constitution, the secretary is required to post meeting minutes—detailed notes on assembly proceedings—for public viewing within 48 hours of a session. After nearly two months of meetings, however, no sets of minutes from this semester can be found on the organization’s website.

We elect SGA officials on the operating assumption that they understand the scope of their duties. It’s no small task to maintain an active web presence, but a constitution is a constitution. Keeping students abreast of how they’re governed, and how their money is used, is not an obligation to be overlooked. There is no liberal interpretation of “48 hours.”

SGA’s failure to post minutes from each session withholds important information from its constituency and casts doubt on the organization’s ability to hold student groups accountable for sticking to constitutional bylaws. How can SGA ethically deny funds to a group in violation of its stated responsibilities when student government itself hasn’t done something so essential?

That’s not to say its website—the SGA’s most direct conduit for communication with the student body—has been neglected entirely. The date and location of meetings are updated weekly, but that is no defense for shirking a requirement explicitly spelled out in its charter.

At a time when the college’s administration is demonstrating a refreshing degree of transparency, it would be a shame for the governing body comprised of our own peers to be any less open. We understand SGA is not actively withholding minutes from the student body, but its passivity is disappointing.

In reality, students may not flock to SGA’s website in droves every week to pore over posted minutes. But to dismiss this oversight as no big deal, or something to be caught up on later, disregards the principle of adhering to a guiding document.

We the people of Emerson College expect SGA to take a closer look at its constitution.

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