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Student Government Association proposes House of Representatives

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Marshall University’s Student Government Association had its second senate meeting of the semester Tuesday. Student Body Vice President Hannah Petracca served as the presiding officer over the meeting and helped maintain order.

Several issues, including student organizations seeking funding, were addressed during the meeting. Student organization leaders tried to secure funding for their respective groups, and SGA senators approved all senate bills on the floor at the meeting to allocate funds and resources to the organizations in need. At the end of the meeting, Senate Treasurer Kaitlyn McClure said a total of $2,478 had been approved to be allocated to various student organizations such as the Game Design Guild, Pre-Dentistry Club and the Society of Physics Students.

Senate Resolution 76.01 was brought forth and approved during the meeting. SR76.01 is a resolution that directly pertains to Student Body President Hunter Barclay’s campaign initiative to reduce textbook cost for Marshall students. The resolution serves to recommend faculty and staff try to adopt more affordable education materials and/or utilize open access materials. Petracca and Barclay have an upcoming meeting with a textbook representative to further establish future goals to help achieve this initiative in a pragmatic way.

The idea of adding a House of Representatives to the student legislative body was discussed at the meeting. Barclay and Petracca thought of the idea while away on a summer conference in Washington, D.C. In addition to a student senate that is able to create legislation, there would be a lower legislative body that would consist of a representative from each official student organization that would meet regularly to create their own legislation. All resolutions and bills passed through the House would then go to the senate for preclearance, but it would help add an additional step for funding.

“The idea behind this is that it bridges the gap between organizations and SGA,” Barclay said in his initial platform speech. “It encourages input from the student body and this way, all organizations are represented and have a place here in student government.”

The motion to create a House of Representatives would be put into place via constitutional amendment. A vote would be conducted for entire student body to vote on this idea, and if approved, Barclay said he would like to see the plan put into motion this year.

“I really like this idea, but it’s logistically not possible to get this in motion by homecoming,” Senator Madison Davis said. “The Constitution took us months to write, it takes time. This isn’t something we want to rush, and I want to put out something that we are proud of.”

Davis and several other senators said while they like the idea of a House to help get student organizations involved in student government, the legislative body would need more than a semester to get the knots worked out. Multiple legislators said they would like to see this become a part of student government next school year, not next semester.

A few others had concerns about getting the student organizations involved even if a resolution to add a House of Representatives was approved.

“We can’t even fill the seats we have currently,” Jacob Gressang said. “I like this idea, but how do we get them to come? Students who are not involved don’t want to be involved. This is a publicity issue. We need to find ways to advertise our meetings and activities more creatively.”

Petracca, who said she was a passionate advocate of the plan, spoke of her experience at the D.C. Conference.

“I spoke with student government officials at Liberty University, who do a very similar thing,” Petracca said. “They’re a very similar size to us, they have around 200 representatives.”

Senator Angel Wallace said she had an alternative idea.

“We have open senate meetings every Tuesday, almost no organizations show up,” Wallace said. “We need to bridge this gap before tackling this bigger issue.”

The senate meeting started conversation about plans for the future. The Barclay administration is organizing multiple upcoming volunteering opportunities, and the student government made it clear their goal is to increase student involvement and reach out to the community. The next senate meeting is Tuesday at 4 p.m., and the meeting will be open to all students with all questions, comments and concerns.

Hannah Graham can be contacted at [email protected]

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