The Student Government Association’s (SGA) proposed bill to restructure the various divisions of student government across the University was withdrawn Monday.
Bill 45sl50 was withdrawn after two of the four original bill authors — College Council (CC) President and College junior Ashish Gandhi and SGA Attorney General and College senior Kristin Bielling — agreed to drop the bill in its entirety, according to an email Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Council President and B-School senior Ali Jooma sent to members of the Council.
The original bill would place the Goizueta Business School’s BBA Council and the Emory Student Nursing Association (ESNA) under the jurisdiction of CC with the goal of eliminating the divisional barriers between the groups.
In an email to the Wheel, Jooma wrote that Bielling’s — and ultimately, Gandhi’s — withdrawal of the bill, “on Adam’s behalf, is the smartest move that they’ve made.”
According to Gandhi, talks of withdrawal began on Thursday when Bielling reached out to Gandhi about abandoning the bill.
“As I learned about how this bill was brought about, I started to disagree with the process,” Gandhi explained. “It came across as sort of a punishment to the BBA Council rather than an opportunity for an improvement.”
An all-inclusive undergraduate structure, according to Bielling, was proposed to resolve inconsistencies in how the student activities fee is disbursed and to ensure that student organization records make it to SGA. In addition, by uniting the College, B-school and Nursing School students would have a “one-stop shop for student organizations.”
Jooma expressed his opinion that there were ulterior motives behind the bill beyond the unification of the undergraduate community.
“I don’t believe [the bill] was withdrawn because of the divide amongst the student body. If that was the reason, Adam would have never brought the bill up in the first place; he would have first communicated with me, Ashish, Colette [Bernstein, ESNA president and Nursing School senior], his executive and legislative board to discuss plans together.”
The bill came after SGA’s claims that the BBA Council had not submitted the necessary documentation — including club bodes, constitutions and operation budgets — by the agreed-upon date, Feb. 10. As reported in a Feb. 17 article of the Wheel, SGA President and College senior Adam McCall stated these documents had not been submitted in two years.
McCall denied to comment on the bill’s withdrawal.
Given the timing of the bill as well as its lack of details, the bill appeared to be “stripping away the BBA Council,” Gandhi said, citing that misconception as a reason why he took his name off the bill and supported its withdrawal.
“Given the circumstances of the past few days, debate was going to be brutal,” Bielling explained in an email to the Wheel. “We all agreed that it would be the best to have an open dialogue between SGA and the undergraduate community. The bill was withdrawn as a sign of good faith: we won’t be approaching that conversation presupposing a solution.”
Such a change in infrastructure requires additional deliberation, Gandhi said, explaining that “we have to be very careful about altering the structure in any way because the way BBA events work is very different from how College events work.”
BBA events, he said, are focused on pre-professional activities and relationships, which leads to a more intimate tie between BBA Council-chartered clubs and the BBA’s programming division, through which faculty and administration may pour their resources into bringing influential people to campus.
Essentially, Gandhi added, these events bring B-school students together with potential employers, which may affect a student’s job search and selection.
“We have to be very careful that if we do do something, that it doesn’t affect [those relationships],” Gandhi said. “The BBA Council perceived that if they came underneath the College Council ... that the connection between clubs and administration could be lost and the quality of what they could do would go down.”
Gandhi admitted that the bill was “very broad” and that “the details hadn’t been hammered out.”
Though this particular bill will no longer be voted on, Gandhi said that the possibility of reinitiating such a bill is not out of the question.
Talks among division leaders revealed interest in uniting the separate groups — according to Gandhi, discussion among B-school students and BBA Council members led to a consensus that there may be better alternatives and other options to bring unification to the undergraduate community at Emory.
“There’s a chance that we could come out with a bill that is similar to what we saw tonight, but with many more details,” he said. “If we are going to have a restructuring bill that affects all of us, that decision should be made with all of us in the room.”
Jooma agreed, noting that such a change should not come about through a bill not previously discussed by all groups affected.
“If a bill for restructuring undergraduate divisions is in order, then I believe that leaders and students from each division should be represented by signing as co-authors of a fully-functioning bill,” he wrote.
As of right now, Gandhi said there will be an open discussion and meeting on Friday, March 2 at 3 p.m. — location currently undecided — during which students can address their concerns and express what changes they would like to see should there be a change.
“We hear the reservations,” Bielling wrote of the formerly proposed bill. “We want to do what’s best for our students. We want to hear their voices. And we will be starting from the beginning, working together.”
Jooma wrote that he was grateful for those who recognized the apparent flaws in the bill, and commended Gandhi and Bielling for their open discussion.
“I must say that I had full faith throughout this process,” Jooma wrote. “[McCall] clearly expressed that he would stop at nothing to ensure this bill is voted on by the legislature.
However, I’m proud of the numerous legislatures, executive board members, students, and even a few co-authors that saw right through the politics. They made an effort to get the essence of the bill, and realized what a ‘needless divide’ this bill created.”
Asst. News Editor Stephanie Fang contributed reporting.
— Contact Alice Chen.