The Constitutional Council reviewed the manner in which the Elections Board presented the Student Government Association (SGA) Constitution amendments to the student body. The council will release the results of the hearing following its deliberations.
The eight amendments, which were passed earlier this month during the University-wide elections, made minor wording changes to the Constitution, detailed SGA’s powers to remove divisional council and club officers and changed the constitutional amendment process. All amendments passed by an all-student referendum during elections.
The amendments raised controversy during elections, when both SGA presidential candidates and other members of the Emory community urged students to vote no to the changes. Most critics argued SGA rushed the amendment process and didn’t publicize the referendum appropriately.
College junior and newly-elected SGA College-wide Representative Aaron Tucek filed a complaint last week against the Elections Board that challenged the results of the referendum on behalf of Emory College students.
Tucek’s complaint asserted that the Elections Board failed to appropriately publicize the referendum, send notifications to the student body and provide students with the text of the proposed amendments prior to elections.
The Constitutional Council — which is made up of students in the College, the Goizueta Business School and the School of Law — decided to convene because of Tucek’s complaint. The hearing consisted of opening statements and closing statements by Elections Board, SGA and Tucek and questions by the Council.
“We want to make sure that, while we follow decorum, we’re also addressing the pertinent questions,” James Crowe, College junior and chief justice of the Constitutional Council, said.
Tucek presented his arguments in his opening statements during the hearing.
“I ask the Constitutional Council to invalidate this referendum,” Tucek said.
SGA Attorney General and College junior Chris Weeden, who spoke on behalf of SGA, said this debate about the Elections Board’s adherence to the elections code falls under the jurisdiction of the SGA Legislature because the Elections Board is a body under SGA. He added that the Constitution gives the Legislature the power to oversee elections and this question ought to be put up to a legislative vote, rather than a council hearing.
Crowe said the central questions of the case were whether or not the Elections Board failed its duties, and if it did, whether that justified overturning the referendum.
Tucek presented evidence which he said he believed proved that the Elections Board failed to meet their obligations in accordance with the elections code. According to him, only one of the four emails the Elections Board sent to the student body gave students access to the full text of the amendments. This email was sent to students approximately 20 minutes prior to the election period, which Tucek said was insufficient publicity of the amendments, which have a large impact on the government’s organization.
“An amendment fundamentally changes the structure of student government,” he said.
He also cited a portion of the elections code that stipulates that the Elections Board must send an email to the student body at least 48 hours before the election that includes the full text of the amendments. Tucek argued that the email, which provided a link to the full text, was insufficient and should have been sent 48 hours before the election and included the amendment text itself.
College senior and Elections Board Chair Matthew Pesce responded to Tucek’s arguments on behalf of the Elections Board.
Pesce said the full text of the amendments were available to students via multiple means, including the legislative agenda on SGA’s website, the SGA listserv, the SGA Facebook page, the link in the aforementioned email and an article published in the Wheel.
“To the best of my knowledge, that meets every obligation placed on us except the specification that we send out an email 48 hours prior to the election,” Pesce said.
While he acknowledged that the email was not sent 48 hours prior to the election, Pesce said he did not believe providing the full text of the amendments would have significantly impacted the vote. According to him, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the amendments, with a more than 1,000 vote margin.
“I wonder if all 5,000 people who voted, if they got a massive text of the amendments, whether they would have actually read them,” Pesce said. “I suspect no.”
He added that if the Constitution Council valued the democratic process, then overturning amendments of which the student body was so overwhelmingly in favor would be “horribly strange.”
Tucek argued that the Elections Board could have also publicized the amendments through other means, including sending more detailed emails, hosting a town hall and disseminating arguments for and against the amendments.
Pesce responded that technology does not allow for the full text to be published in an email because it is “exceedingly difficult” to get University-wide emails approved. He added that a full text on the ballot would also be impossible because the balloting software has a word limit.
In regards to the town hall and other publicizing methods, Pesce said he did not believe students would attend such events and that the Elections Board had actually exceeded the minimum requirements so long as the Constitutional Council read the elections code “pretty liberally.”
College sophomore Reuben Lack, former College Council budget chair and former candidate for SGA vice president who attended the meeting as an observer, said he did not believe the council should reject the referendum because the student body was still in favor of it despite the controversy surrounding it.
Tucek said there is a difference between the SGA and the Wheel publicizing the referendum and the Elections Board itself doing so. He stressed the importance of the right of the students to see the full text of the amendments before the election and the democratic process.
“The Emory student body trusts the Elections Board to provide them with information about the elections,” Tucek said. He added that allowing the referendum to pass in light of clear violations to the elections code would undermine the validity of the code itself.
Pesce, however, insisted that his arguments — the will of the student body and the low chances that the vote would have changed — outweighed a potential violation of the elections code.
“The elections code, even the revised version, contains a zillion peculiar things that even I scratch my head about,” Pesce said.
Both Tucek and Pesce had comments in regards to the legitimacy of the amendments themselves.
“I don’t know whether these amendments are good or bad,” Pesce said. “I haven’t read through them, I’m gonna be honest.”
Tucek, however, said he believed the questions on the ballot were poorly phrased.
“There are differences between [Elections Board members] summarizing [the amendments] and what the actual amendments are,” Tucek said. “The student body has a right to read that for themselves.”
In his closing statements, Tucek reiterated his earlier points and added that the question of whether or not the results of the referendum would change are immaterial to the question of a legitimate democratic process.
“People might not change their vote, but they are entitled to the opportunity to do so,” he said.
Pesce’s closing statements also recapped his earlier statements, stating that the full text of the amendments were available if students wanted to see them. He urged the council to evaluate the overwhelming vote in favor of the amendments over the violation to the elections code.
Crowe concluded the hearing, stating that the Constitutional Council would take the statements and evidence put forth at the meeting into consideration during its deliberations. He said a verdict would be delivered when the deliberations were complete, which he said could take up to a few days.
— By Rupsha Basu
Emory Libraries and Information Technology will be replacing Reserves Direct, its current online course material reserve system, with a different cataloguing system, effective May 2014.
Reserves Direct is an internal database developed by Emory Libraries that houses electronic course material that teachers upload for students to use.
The new system, which is called Ares, is a commercially available platform developed by Atlas Systems.
Reserves Direct currently houses course material since 2001 when Emory Libraries first developed the database, according to Head of Access Services for the Robert W. Woodruff Library Amy Boucher.
The database was developed internally because a commercial system was not available at the time, Boucher said. She added that Emory Libraries decided to switch to a commercially available system because it was a more sustainable option. The new system, which she referred to as “Course Reserves,” does not require “in-house development work” because it has a vendor that conducts ongoing product development.
When the new system goes live on May 14, it will automatically migrate course materials from fall 2011 up to fall 2014 that have already been uploaded.
If professors want to retain materials prior to fall 2011, they must specifically request this from Emory Libraries, Boucher said.
The new Course Reserves database is able to perform all of the functions of Reserves Direct. These features include immediate access to uploaded materials, the ability to archive past materials, the ability to group materials by date and subject and automated email notifications for newly added materials, among others.
“It’s quite similar to what we have now,” Boucher said.
There are two main differences between Course Reserves and Reserves Direct, according to Boucher. The new system is able to integrate into Blackboard, which is an online course management software. This means students and faculty can now access the database through a link on Blackboard as well as through the external URL.
The second difference is that through Course Reserves, instructors will be able to directly request books and articles through discoverE, which is Emory Libraries’ shared catalog for physical and electronic resources. Reserves Direct does not connect to discoverE, so instructors currently must request those materials by contacting library staff.
Other universities that use Ares to streamline their library reserves include the University of Chicago, the University of Florida and Ryerson University in Toronto, according to the Atlas Systems website.
After May 14, the page’s URL will redirect users to the new tool.
“We’ll be prepared to help library patrons in any way they need with the new system when it rolls out in the summer, and in the fall when students come back,” Boucher said.
— By Rupsha Basu
Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) Fatou Bensouda delivered the third annual David J. Bederman Lecture to members of the Emory community in the Tull Auditorium at the School of Law.
The lecture, entitled “Fostering the Promise of the Rome Statute: A Prosecutor’s Perspective,” was presented by the School of Law’s center for International and Comparative Law. Bensouda spoke to a group of undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty about the court’s ongoing investigations of crimes under its jurisdiction as well as its role in the international arena. She also engaged in a question and answer session after the speech.
The ICC is an international tribunal seated in The Hague, Netherlands that oversees 122 countries and prosecutes individuals for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.
Bensouda is a Gambian lawyer and international criminal law prosecutor. She began her position as chief prosecutor in June 2012, previously serving as the deputy prosecutor since 2004.
According to Bensouda, as chief prosecutor of the ICC, her job is to trigger investigations of crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the court, such as genocide.
Bensouda’s speech outlined the jurisdiction and limitations of the Rome Statute, which is the treaty that established the court as well as its functions and structure in 1998, after it became a global priority to hold individuals accountable for heinous crimes.
“This is the promise that more than 120 states made to humankind,” Bensouda said.
She added that the criminal justice system established by the Rome Statute has provisions for the victims of crimes. This includes specifying the definitions of crimes such as sexual violence and a trust fund for reparations to victims.
Throughout her speech, Bensouda emphasized the limitations of the ICC’s jurisdiction.
She added that the ICC operates under a system of “complementarity,” which means that it can only intervene in situations when a state is unable or unwilling to act.
Currently, the ICC is investigating eight situations in Uganda, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Cote d’Ivoire and Mali. There are 21 cases in front of ICC judges, five of which are in trial while the others are in appeal, Bensouda said.
During the question and answer session, an audience member asked Bensouda to respond to criticism that the ICC focuses too heavily on the African continent.
Bensouda explained that of the eight ongoing investigations in Africa, five of them were at the request of the countries, and two were referrals from the United Nations Security Council. She added that the ICC has not intervened in the atrocities being committed by the Syrian government because it does not have the jurisdiction to do so, because Syria has not abdicated control of the situation.
Bensouda also discussed some of the problems the court has been facing in convicting individuals. One of these issues is witness interference and evidence tampering. She said this phenomenon has increased as a method of compromising the integrity of cases.
Another issue is the fact that the ICC does not have police officers or enforcement mechanisms.
“Cooperation is the key to effectiveness and success,” she said. She added that a large part of the maintenance of the institution is “strong, consistent and timely cooperation” on the part of its constituent parties.
Indeed, Bensouda acknowledged that the lack of an enforcing body has interfered with some of the courts proceedings. She cited Omar Al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, who has had two pending arrest warrants for years and remains in power. She said that the ICC currently has an additional 13 pending arrest warrants out for suspected criminals.
However, Bensouda noted that these problems do not mean the ICC is ineffective.
“I don’t think it is sufficient to measure the success of the ICC in convictions,” she said.
Following an ICC case that convicted Thomas Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the conscription of children, the ICC held the first conference on the issue of child soldiers, according to Bensouda.
An audience member noted that the court is balanced in terms of gender and asked whether female judges have an obligation to promote women’s rights globally.
Bensouda responded that the Rome Statute has provisions for gender crimes, specifically ones against women and children, and that she believes the law can be used to promote gender equality.
“The fact that she is such an important world leader, and a woman, was inspiration for me personally,” College sophomore Jessica Margolis said.
The David J. Bederman Lecture was established in honor of Gyr Professor of Private International Law David J. Bederman, who died in December of 2011, and his contribution to teaching, academics and advocacy, according to the School of Law’s website.
Students attending the event not only said it was an informative experience but also expressed that it was a unique opportunity to learn directly from an individual in the center of the action.
“I thought it was an amazing experience to hear the international political dynamics of the ICC explained by [Bensouda] herself,” Margolis said. “It was fascinating to hear from someone who has such extensive experience with international law and human rights.”
Others said Bensouda was inspirational.
“[Bensouda] was definitely the most interesting guest speaker that I’ve been to at Emory, especially because she’s the first African woman to serve on an international tribunal,” College sophomore Deepa Mahadevan said. “She was really inspirational, and I really got a lot out of hearing about her perspective of being chief prosecutor for the ICC.”
—By Rupsha Basu
The Elections Board announced the winners of the student government run-off elections on Thursday shortly after midnight.
Goizueta Business School junior and current Student Programming Council (SPC) Treasurer Michael Nathin was elected SPC President, Oxford freshman Noah Cole was elected Oxford Student Government Association (SGA) President, Goizueta Business School sophomore Paul Kagan was elected BBA Council Junior Representative and College freshman Raven Whitmore was elected Residence Hall Association (RHA) Vice President of Advocacy.
Nathin won by a margin of 457 votes against College junior Niyeti Shah, with a total vote count of 1,605.
“Being elected SPC President has been a dream of mine since joining the organization three years ago, and it is such an incredible feeling to have realized this feat,” Nathin wrote in an email to the Wheel. “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and cannot wait to begin initiatives to continue the SPC legacy of programming excellence.”
He added that he is grateful for the help he has received from classmates over the last few weeks.
Originally, the SPC President race had three candidates, including Nathin, Shah and B-School junior Nick Bertha. SPC is a University-wide organization, so the entire student body was eligible to vote.
Former SPC President and B-School senior Raghvi Anand wrote in an email to the Wheel that every candidate who ran for the position was “extremely qualified.”
Cole won by a margin of 26 votes against Oxford freshman Justin Ian Sia, with a total vote count of 408.
Kagan won against B-School sophomore Huyen Nguyen by a close margin of seven votes, with a total vote count of 93.
Whitmore won by a margin of 84 votes against College freshman Abe Adam, with a total vote count of 764.
Run-off elections were held from midnight on Monday, April 7 to 11:59 p.m. on April 9. A University-wide email was sent by the Elections Board on Sunday evening detailing the election period and included a link to the ballot.
The run-off elections yielded a decrease in voter turnout of more than 1,000 votes compared to the regular election period.
“Relative to past runoffs the number that voted in this one is actually much higher than it usually is, which is probably an effect of the SPC race attracting more people to vote than would for smaller positions if the runoff did not include a high-level position,” College senior and Elections Board Chair Matthew Pesce wrote in an email to the Wheel.
In light of problems with the electronic ballot during the regular election, which resulted in some students receiving ballots that corresponded with their class standing by credit hours instead of their graduation year, the email addressed these issues by advising “students presented with an unexpected ballot” to email the Elections Board to override their class standing on the electronic ballot.
The email also stated that students’ class standing data is taken from the official Registrar and/or Housing data.
—By Rupsha Basu
Darby, Tilwa, Chan, Weinstein Win SGA, CC Executive Positions
Members of the Elections Board announced the results of student government elections and the referendum on Student Government Association (SGA) constitutional amendments around 12 a.m. on Thursday. More than 2,700 students voted online over a three-day voting period for their representatives for the 2014-2015 school year.
The Elections Board provided the following election results to The Emory Wheel. A full list of winners is available on the Wheel’s website.
College sophomore and SGA Vice President for Communications Jon Darby bested College sophomore and SGA Speaker of the House Kim Varadi for SGA President. Darby won by a margin of 974 votes.
“I look forward to forging a stronger relationship between all Emory students and the Student Government Association, defined by accessibility, efficiency and representation,” Darby wrote in an email to the Wheel. “I am grateful for Emory’s abundance of servant-leaders, people who are consistently willing to go above and beyond for the sake of a better university. I aspire to become the leader you have elected me to be, and I know we will change Emory together.”
Darby added that he is thankful for all the people who campaigned for him and encouraged people to vote.
College sophomore and SGA Representative-at-Large Raj Tilwa will serve as the next SGA Vice President, receiving 1,815 votes, against College junior Andrew Chang College sophomore, receiving 712 votes and College Council (CC) Budget Chair Reuben Lack, who received 492 votes.
“I just feel humbled,” Tilwa said. “Knowing that there were a majority of voters who consider me to be a good SGA VP makes me feel empowered, and at the same time, I feel that I have to try my best for those people who believe in me.”
He added that he is excited to enact the policies he mentioned during his campaign and to work with Darby, saying they “share a very similar vision for Emory.”
In one of the closest presidential races this election season, College junior and CC Vice President Adam Chan was elected CC President with 881 votes against College junior and current CC Treasurer Omair Kazi, who received 823 votes.
Chan did not respond for comment by press time.
College sophomore and current CC Sophomore Legislator Alyssa Weinstein, who ran unopposed for CC Vice President, received 1,452 votes.
“I’m so excited to be CC VP,” Weinstein wrote in a statement to the Wheel. “Even though I was running uncontested, the whole election process was really exciting, and I can’t wait to work with the 59th College Council!”
The elections for Student Progamming Council (SPC) President resulted in a run-off between College junior Niyeti Shah and Goizueta Business School junior Michael Nathin, because none of the candidates received a majority of votes.
Shah said she was honored.
“The past ten days have been an incredible experience, and I am excited to continue my campaign over the next few days,” she said. “I am confident in the merits of my platform and believe that, if given the opportunity, I would see my platform to fruition.”
Nathin also expressed thanks.
“I am very thankful for the opportunity to be in a runoff for SPC President,” Nathin wrote in a statement to the Wheel. “Regardless of the outcome, I am confident that SPC will thrive in the future, but I hope everyone can recognize the dedication, passion and pragmatic approach I have continuously shown over my three years within the organization.”
B-school junior Caroline Capponi won SPC Vice President with 1,774 votes against Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing junior Michelle Feldman, who received 1,280 votes.
“I am elated and grateful for the opportunity to serve Emory as Student Programming Council Vice President,” Capponi said. “I am incredibly thankful for the support I received from my friends during the elections period and am so excited to continue the legacy of programming excellence.”
In addition, all eight of the amendments to the SGA constitution passed.
Run-off elections will be held from Monday April 7 at midnight to Wednesday April 9 at 11:59 p.m., according to College sophomore and Elections Board RHA Commissioner Bryce Robertson, who is also a Wheel sales associate.
—By Rupsha Basu
The 47th Legislature of the Student Government Association (SGA) voted unanimously to fund new weight-lifting equipment for the Woodruff Physical Education Center (WoodPEC) and to approve revisions to the Media Council Constitution.
College sophomore and SGA Sophomore Representative Michael Lor presented the bill to the Legislature. He said he asked students and members of the WoodPEC staff what equipment they wanted in the WoodPEC.
According to him, students wanted more dumbbells. The bill asks that SGA fund 26 sets of dumbbells of various weights ranging from five pounds to 60 pounds.
Additionally, the bill funds a Magnum multi-adjustable bench and the freight, delivery and installation costs.
In total, the bill asked for $8,776 from SGA’s Fee Interest Account (FIC), which is designated for long-term projects lasting three or more years. The Legislature voted unanimously to fund this amount.
SGA also voted unanimously to revise Media Council’s Constitution. Media Council is a University-wide organization (UWO) that oversees student-produced media like Emory Television (ETV) and Emory’s student-run radio station WMRE.
According to full-time MBA student and SGA Governance Committee Chair David Kaplan, the changes to the Constitution update its language to reflect current practices. For example, SGA updated its chartering bylaws last semester, which the new Media Council constitution now reflects.
He added that Media Council is working on a monetary code separate from the Constitution in order to comply with the new budgeting procedures for University-wide organizations (UWO), which no longer gives UWOs a fixed percentage of the student activities fee — the $89 student activities fee paid each semester by every student — and instead requires UWOs to submit an itemized budget every spring for the following fiscal year. This is known as the fee-split bill.
The Legislature approved the revisions unanimously.
Additionally, College senior and SGA Finance Committee Chair Calvin Lee updated the Legislature on the repairs to McDonough Field, which SGA funded last semester also using the FIC.
The repairs, which started in January, are now complete, he said.
The SGA contingency account has $2,678 remaining in it. This amount will roll over to the 48th Legislature’s contingency account if the 47th Legislature does not reconvene again this year.
— By Rupsha Basu
Despite this year’s new interface meant to fix past election ballot issues, students still experienced problems while voting in student government elections this week.
The Elections Board, a subsidiary of Student Government Association (SGA), sent out a University-wide email on Monday afternoon suggesting tips to students who have been having problems completing the election ballot, including slow loading, error messages and ballots that fail to correspond to correct graduation years. The election ballot was sent to all students at midnight on Sunday, and elections will end on April 2 at 11:59 p.m.
Goizueta Business School students received ballots that mistakenly corresponded to their class standing — determined by the number of credit hours taken — instead of their graduation year, according to B-School sophomore and Elections Board RHA Commissioner Bryce Robertson, who is also a sales associate of the Wheel.
This means that students in the class of 2016 in the B-school who qualify for junior standing with their credit hours received the names of class representatives from the class above them. They were asked to vote for representatives not in their graduating class.
Robertson said this year, he coordinated with all the representatives from the divisional councils to ensure that the ballots were set to graduation year instead of class standing. However, he added that the BBA council ballots were mistakenly set to class standing. Still, it is unclear why there are some incorrect ballots for College students, but not others.
While many students outside of the B-school did not have this problem, some students like College junior Lex Gardner reported that they also had incorrect ballots.
“I thought it was disappointing that, with all the issues with elections last year and the creation of the new elections board, there were still issues,” Gardner said. “I am encouraged, however, that the website seems to be working more effectively after the first night. Good thing they extended the voting period to be over a few days [unlike last year].”
In past elections, this problem has existed for the entire student body. These problems persist despite a new interface for electronic ballots that was meant to address the issue. In October, SGA voted to fund the new interface.
According to Robertson, the new system allows Elections Board representatives from each divisional council — which includes the BBA Council and the Graduation Student Government Association (GSGA) — to input the correct ballots for each graduating class in their school.
The ballot each student receives depends on various parameters regarding each student. Depending on one’s academic school, class standing, level of professional or doctoral school, residence hall, netID and graduation year, each student receives an individualized ballot, Robertson said.
“The platform we use is quite good,” College senior and Elections Board Chair Matthew Pesce wrote in an email to the Wheel.
“We asked every division to create their offices on the ballot,” Robertson said. “Each division may not have been as diligent as they could have been.”
He added that there was also a miscommunication with the Oxford SGA. The sophomore representative position on the ballot allowed students to vote for up to eight people instead of the actual number of representatives, which is four.
Similar to the past, students can rectify their incorrect ballots by emailing the Elections Board, whose members can then manually override the system and re-send the student a correct version of their individualized ballot.
The email sent out on Monday afternoon states that students experiencing error messages should clear their browser cache, close the browser and re-enter the ballot address in a new browser window. The email also advises choosing a different browser.
According to Robertson, students have had issues with Google Chrome because the browser is unable to read certain scripts.
He advises that students use a different browser and Emory computers if possible.
According to the email, the ballot has been taking up to a minute and 30 seconds to load.
Robertson said this was due to server overload as a result of the unprecedented voter turnout for this year’s elections.
“We have had unparalleled voter turnout,” Robertson said.
According to him, by 10 a.m., more than 1,400 people had voted. By 5 p.m., that number increased to more than 2,000.
Robertson attributed this year’s turnout to a longer election period as well as a change in the time the email was sent out. Previously, voting has been from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
However, Robertson said that data shows that the best time for the University to ask a question via email is around 10 p.m., when students are most active on their emails.
More students across the divisions know about the elections this year, according to Robertson.
Robertson also said these problems are not likely to occur next year.
“As long as we have people invested enough in the divisions, I don’t anticipate [the problems] happening again next year,” Robertson said.
Robertson said ballot issues until the end of the election period can be rectified by contacting the Elections Boar at ElectionsBoard@emory.edu.
Assistant News Editor Stephen Fowler contributed reporting.
— By Rupsha Basu
The entire Emory student body will vote in a referendum that would amend various parts of the Student Government (SGA) Constitution on Tuesday. It will be attached to SGA election ballot, which students will receive via email on Monday and have until April 2 to electronically vote.
The Legislature passed the amendments unanimously at their Feb. 17 meeting.
Some of the amendments are minor changes to the wording of the Constitution. Others enumerate powers to appoint and remove officers that already existed in the bylaws but were not present in the Constitution and one affects the amendment process itself. These latter amendments have raised some controversy among students and election candidates.
Some have criticized SGA for the process by which they amended the Constitution, which some believe was rushed, and that SGA did not publicize the amendments enough.
Amendments to the Constitution not only require approval from the Legislature but also need a simple majority vote of the student body through a University-wide referendum.
The amendments were authored by College senior and SGA President Raj Patel, executive members of the SGA, members of the Constitutional Council — the judicial branch of SGA — and members of the SGA elections board.
Each of the eight questions on the ballot will correspond to all the proposed changes within one article.
University Senate Authority
The amendment to Article 10 proposes that the University Senate must also approve constitutional amendments, not just the student body and the Legislature.
The University Senate is the highest governing body of the University under the Board of Trustees and is made up of faculty, employees and students.
“The University Senate right now can already overturn anything SGA does,” Patel said. “It’s a policy-making body for the entire University.”
Patel said this measure is necessary because a student referendum could theoretically be passed solely by undergraduate students because they make up a majority of Emory students. He said the University Senate needs to have final say so that one division alone does not overpower or make decisions that would affect every other division.
Patel also said other divisions of the University Senate, such as the faculty, already implement this practice, where faculty bylaws are subject to University Senate approval.
“It would not be in my best interest to give up any type of self-governance ability, and I don’t really think this is in any way constraining our self-governance,” he said.
College sophomore and College Council (CC) Budget Chair Reuben Lack said this amendment is the most problematic.
“My concern is that if [the University Senate] can actually veto internal process changes … [it] gives the University’s authority too much power over something that should only be students’ domain,” Lack said.
Lack added that we should not unnecessarily limit the students’ power to change the Constitution. He also said, if the amendment passes, it would be extremely difficult to overturn it because the student body would have to get the University Senate’s approval to remove itself from the process.
“Right now, I think it might be harmless in the short-term,” he said. “I’m just concerned that the dialogue hasn’t been there, over what I do think is a significant change.”
SGA’s Impeachment Power
The amendment to Article Four gives the legislature the power “to expel any member of the Legislature and remove all other individuals from office, including student organizations.”
This means SGA can impeach any legislator or divisional council officer, as well as officers from student organizations.
Some people like College junior Zach Youngblood are critical of this amendment because it extends SGA’s impeachment power to student organizations.
SGA currently has the constitutional power to impeach SGA members of the executive and legislative branch, but the power to expel student organization officers did not previously exist in the Constitution.
However, Patel said divisional councils and SGA have always had this power in the chartering bylaws, but they have never been enumerated in the Constitution. Under the analogy comparing the SGA Constitution to the U.S. Constitution, the chartering bylaws are similar to U.S. federal laws.
Under chartering bylaws, SGA has the power to revoke a club’s charter. Patel said if club officers fail to meet their duties under the chartering bylaws, they qualify for impeachment by SGA or the divisional council under which the club is chartered.
He added that all students are guaranteed due process through the Constitution and, in the case of impeachment, the Legislature would have to adequately prove an egregious enough violation to warrant removal.
For example, according to Patel, a legislator that misses more than four legislative sessions technically qualifies for impeachment, but the legislature decides whether a violation warrants calling someone into question.
Other amendments to the Constitution include changing the number of Constitutional Council justices, which is currently seven, to be the same as the number of academic deans, which is currently nine. This amends Article Six of the Constitution.
Article Five’s amendment removes the Chief of Staff from the cabinet of SGA because the executive cabinet is meant to be made up of University-wide positions. The Chief of Staff is not, because the role pertains only to the SGA executive board and the SGA president.
The amendment to Article One recognizes that former University President Sanford S. Atwood, who was president at the time of the conception of the Constitution, and the University Senate at that time approved and supported the Constitution.
Patel said this was necessary in order to establish the supremacy of the Constitution.
The amendment to Article Eight gives other executive members of SGA and other branches, such as the Constitutional Council, the ability to appoint officers outside of SGA. That power originally solely belonged to the President.
Patel cited the example that the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Council may now appoint people to the Board of Elections. Patel said these changes would limit the powers of president.
The amendment to Article Seven establishes the Secretary of SGA, whose job it is to update the SGA bylaws. The Legislature has already approved the creation of the Office of the Secretary position; the amendment simply codifies it into the Constitution.
Article Nine’s amendment does not significantly change the powers of the divisional councils but simply updates its terminology to be consistent with current practice and the language in the bylaws.
Raj said the questions that will appear on the ballot and the amendments will be emailed to all students before the elections.
Lack, who is also an SGA executive vice presidential candidate, emphasized his position during the Wheel debates. He encourages students to vote against the amendments because some believe SGA rushed through the process.
Others candidates at the debate, such as SGA vice presidential candidate Andrew Chang, were critical that SGA was trying to pass too many amendments at once.
However, Patel said all amendments should be passed at once because the wording needed to be uniform. In the past, different SGA presidents changed various parts of the Constitution, which Patel said was not uniform.
“I know [the amendment document] is longer than ideally you would like it to be,” Raj said.
Patel added that many of these amendments have been discussed as far back as when he was an SGA legislator last year.
Both SGA presidential candidates, College sophomore and SGA Speaker of the House Kim Varadi and College sophomore and SGA Vice President for Communications Jon Darby, said they advise that students vote against the referendum.
“I do not believe that the legislators knew the details of the changes to the constitution when they voted,” Varadi wrote in a statement to the Wheel. “There needs to be more debate about the extent of the amendments before they are implemented. I believe in furthering the discussion on the referendum.”
Some students were also unaware of the referendum until Lack’s editorial published in the March 25 issue of the Wheel and before they were discussed at the Wheel candidate debates.
“I don’t think two weeks or me running an editorial is sufficient for us to have that dialogue,” Lack said. “It gives the impression that [SGA] wanted to ram this through in the last few weeks.”
- By Rupsha Basu
The Student Government Association (SGA) voted unanimously to approve changes to the monetary code that update outdated language, institute contingency account caps for divisional councils and establish a new budgeting process for University-wide organizations (UWOs), in accordance with changes made to the Student Activities Fee (SAF) split bill passed in December.
The monetary code outlines the distribution of the SAF, which every student contributes $89 to through tuition. The SAF is allotted to each divisional council, like the BBA Council, and the UWOs, which are the Student Programming Council (SPC), the Media Council, the Outdoor Emory Organization (OEO) and Club Sports. The code also grants duties and responsibilities to SGA and organizational and divisional treasurers.
Some of these monetary code updates resulted from the bill passed in December that eliminated fixed percentages allotted to UWOs through the fee split, according to full-time MBA Goizueta Business School student and SGA Governance Committee Chair David Kaplan.
The SGA Finance Committee, which is made up of SGA legislators and the treasurers of UWOs and divisional councils, developed the changes to the code. A separate committee made up of legislators and some divisional council presidents and treasurers determined the UWO budgeting process, which is in section five of the monetary code.
Under the old system, UWOs received a certain fixed percentage in the fee split. Kaplan said the reason it doesn’t make sense for UWOs to receive a fixed percentage is because they are essentially University-wide clubs that answer to SGA, whereas divisional councils like the Graduate SGA or BBA Council represent certain populations of students. Divisional councils receive a percentage of the fee split based on how many students they represent.
Under the new system, the money that UWOs receive in the fee split will start off in a general UWO account. Then, they must apply for funding from this account through the budgeting process annually in the spring semester, which will determine their operating budget for the following school year.
The budgeting process involves presenting a detailed projected budget for the year to SGA, including major events they want to host and line-items for specific expenses that must be based on past events they’ve hosted.
The process also allows UWOs to build in miscellaneous funds, Kaplan said.
“All we’re adding here is the same type of oversight that any club at any level in this community goes through to get budgets,” Kaplan said.
Other chartered organizations, like the Indian Cultural Exchange (ICE) and TEDx, must first present a line-item budget to the SGA Finance Committee. After the Finance Committee approves it, the SGA Legislature must approve it in two consecutive meetings.
According to Kaplan, these changes were made because SGA business managers, who have seen multiple waves of leadership pass through these organizations, have reported that many UWO leaders copy and paste the previous year’s budget without updating it.
“The goal is not to micro-manage UWOs,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan added that the committee to make these changes included representation from every part of the University.
B-school senior and BBA Council President Patrick McBride wrote in an email to the Wheel that his objectives going into the negotiations were met.
“I am satisfied with the outcome of this bill, especially in the way SGA handled themselves in light of their behavior on the UWO/fee split debacle,” McBride said, referring to the bill passed in December.
In addition to the budgeting process, the monetary code establishes new contingency account caps for the divisional councils. Contingency accounts accumulate the unspent funds given to student organizations from their operational budgets. The new code maintains this rule but caps the amount of money in the contingency accounts of divisions “to prevent long-term accumulation of funds at the divisional level,” according to the monetary code.
Moreover, Kaplan said he believes this is necessary because currently student organizations are underspending the money they are allotted. He said he believes the contingency caps will deter future leaders from underspending.
“There are plenty of examples of divisions in certain years who just underspend, which robs their current students of activities that they’ve paid for,” Kaplan said. “When you roll [the money] over, you’re stealing from current students to subsidize future students.”
According to College senior and SGA Finance Committee Chair Calvin Lee, to date a total of $1.1 million dollars have rolled over into contingency accounts for all UWOs and divisional councils, with the exception of Oxford.
The contingency caps are different for every division based on the number of students in the division, the size of the contingency account and the history of roll-overs for the division, according to Kaplan.
Lee added that these caps were determined by representatives from SGA in consultation with divisional council and UWO leaders.
Because current contingency accounts contain more than the determined caps, each division has three years starting in the fall of 2014 to spend down their contingency accounts to meet the cap.
In regards to the contingency caps, McBride wrote that he still questions the need for them.
The bill states that excess funds that exceed the contingency caps will be transferred to the SGA Fee Interest Account, which is used for long-term projects that last three or more years.
In addition to the changes in the SAF split, Kaplan said the monetary code was due for an update in order to change language that was outdated and align policies with practice.
For example, last semester the Legislature restructured the chartering process to eliminate the categories of perpetual and temporary charters, Kaplan said. The new monetary code no longer has this language.
The code also establishes that the SGA Vice President for Finance is in charge of setting the deadlines for the organizational and UWO budgeting processes.
The code is available on the SGA website.
— By Rupsha Basu
The 47th Legislature of the Student Government Association (SGA) voted to fund a new server and new domain names for hosting a network of student organization websites called EmoryLife.
The server “will provide student organizations with a platform on which modern, responsive, feature-rich websites may be hosted,” according to the bill.
The server is called Virtual Private Server and takes large amounts of server space and splits it up into smaller servers to accommodate the close to 300 websites that will come under the web host, according to SGA Vice President for Communications and College sophomore Jon Darby.
According to Darby, this system will replace the current system of student organization websites, which are hosted by blogs.emory.edu.
“The EmoryLife Network will provide divisional councils, University-wide organizations and chartered student organizations access to modern, fast and functional websites on an integrated system, centrally managed by the Student Government Association in coordination with Campus Life Technical Services,” Darby wrote in an email to the SGA Finance Committee.
The bill also funds the domain names emorylife.org, emorylife.com, emorylife.net and emorylife.info so that students can type any variation into their browser and arrive at the same place, Darby said.
The Legislature voted to use the Fee Interest Account (FIC), which is comprised of the interest accumulated from the Student Activities Fee, to pay for the servers.
The FIC is meant for long-term projects that last for three or more years. The bill calls for the purchase of domain names and web hosting for three years. Members of the Legislature said they want to consider renewing the purchase after two years.
The total cost amounted to $1,964.07. The bill passed unanimously.
SGA also voted to change the way the three University senators allotted to SGA are appointed. Currently, the executive vice president of SGA fills the first seat, and the other two are appointed by the SGA president.
The Legislature unanimously voted to change the process such that the other two seats are now elected seats open to anyone in the student body.
SGA also unanimously confirmed College senior Niko Patel to the Office of the Vice Chair of the Board of Elections, College sophomore Jenelle Chiang as a University-wide Commissioner of the Board of Elections and College senior James Crowe, who currently serves as an Associate Justice of the Constitutional Council, as the Chief Justice of the SGA.
— By Rupsha Basu
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