Bill For Wagner ‘Confidence’ Vote Fails

The Student Government Association (SGA) voted down a bill Monday evening that would have added an option to vote no confidence in the direction the University is headed in this Thursday’s student leadership elections electronic ballot. The bill was amended to shift its focus from University President James W. Wagner’s leadership specifically to Emory’s direction as a whole.

Fourth-year student in the Laney Graduate School Andy Ratto authored the bill, which was tabled during the previous two SGA legislative sessions.

The SGA legislature debated the bill for about an hour on Monday evening.

“This is an opportunity for SGA to make clear that SGA needs to be heard,” Ratto said as he addressed all SGA legislators and executive officers. “It’s about saying, ‘Do we want the student body to have a say in the leadership of governance in this University?’”

After much deliberation, an amendment changed the language of the bill so that the ballot would ask “Do you have confidence in the direction of the University?” rather than “Do you have confidence in President James Wagner?” The amendment was approved by a vote of 16-9.

The amended bill, however, was ultimately voted down 6-14-3.

Before the amendment, SGA President and College senior Ashish Gandhi, who is not allowed to vote on any bills, stood in opposition to the bill.

“In my perspective, this has come in the aftermath of the Three-Fifths [Compromise] article [in Emory Magazine], not just the [department changes], or this could have happened three for four months ago,” Gandhi said. “The people who were directly affected by that comment, those who are African American — they have all forgiven him.”

Largely, the bill’s supporters consisted of graduate representatives of SGA, while opposition mainly came from SGA’s undergraduate legislators.

“There is an issue,” Laney Graduate student and SGA Laney Graduate School representative Chris Brown said. “It’s not good enough to say everything is fine. There is an issue around leadership at Emory, and President Wagner as president of the University is cemented in that.”

College junior Shaunesse Jacobs, an SGA junior class representative, acknowledged the difference in perspectives among undergraduate and graduate students.

“Grad students have a very different perspective from Emory undergraduate students, but we have addressed the problem,” Jacobs said. “We’ve decided that we want to move beyond this and set up ways to come together cohesively and address the problem so it doesn’t happen again.”

Undergraduate students raised concerns regarding the effectiveness and purpose of the bill and whether it was appropriate to hold such a vote alongside Thursday’s vote for student leaders.

“I hear people say a lot that we need to hear a student perspective on [leadership], but this is a college campus,” SGA assistant vice president of alumni relations and Goizueta Business School junior Jordan Angel said. “Students are allowed to voice their opinion at any point at time.”

Four graduate students attended the meeting and held up signs asking SGA members to support the bill.

“Students are not going to be leading; they are just going to be reacting,” said Andrew Zonderman, a second-year history graduate student and a supporter of the bill who attended the meeting. “We’re just going to have to take decisions that are made by faculty and administration.”

Following the meeting, Gandhi wrote in an email to the Wheel: “I think most of SGA voted against this bill because it would not have been constructive for the community. The department changes happened last semester — we have learned from that process.”

Following the conclusion of the meeting, Ratto declined to comment.

— By Nicholas Sommariva and Dustin Slade

13 COMMENTS

  1. “In my perspective, this has come in the aftermath of the Three-Fifths [Compromise] article [in Emory Magazine], not just the [department changes], or this could have happened three for four months ago,” Gandhi said. “The people who were directly affected by that comment, those who are African American — they have all forgiven him.”

    Really, Asish? You’ve talked to “all the people affected”? Like the disproportionately “affected” minorities who are losing their jobs, and the students who will no longer be allowed to pursue their chosen majors? Or are those people just done with and out of the picture in your eyes? And you don’t see the 3/5ths thing as in any way related to the cuts — even though Wagner himself made the comparison in his article – it’s just about hurt feelings? Come. On.

    And seriously – the SGA executive committee regularly quashed action on this subject this Fall because you agreed to “neutrality” with Dean Forman, not because you were responding to your constituency. Yet now you cite that lack of action on your part as actually representing the will of people who you followed the administration’s lead in shutting out in the first place. Your neutrality has basically just been towing the administration’s line. Pathetic.

    • “Your neutrality has basically just been towing the administration’s line.”

      I’m not sure what including the student voice in university governance might look like, but it doesn’t look like the SGA will be the way to pursue such a thing.

  2. “Following the meeting, Gandhi wrote in an email to the Wheel: “I think most of SGA voted against this bill because it would not have been constructive for the community. The department changes happened last semester — we have learned from that process.”

    what exactly have you learned from that process? that the SGA can be coopted by new budget allocations into silence?

  3. So basically a lame duck SGA subcommittee killed a broad based student referendum because they were afraid of how the student body they supposedly represent would vote. Way to live up to the expectation of your Emory education, guys.

  4. Everyone should read this book if they want solutions to the problems we face in this country.

    Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life

    “But despite decades of fashionable denial, the overriding and insistent truth about intellectual ability is that it is endowed unequally. In this audio presentation of The Bell Curve, author Charles Murray explores the ways that low intelligence, independent of social, economic, or ethnic background, lies at the root of many of our social problems. He also discusses another taboo subject: that intelligence levels differ among ethnic groups. According to the authors, only by facing up to these differences can we accurately assess the nation’s problems and make realistic plans to address them. ”

    http://www.amazon.com/Bell-Curve-Intelligence-Structure-Paperbacks/dp/0684824299/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364447313&sr=8-1&keywords=the+bell+curve

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