SGA debates GPA requirements, campaign rules

Conversations became heated as Marshall University’s Student Government Association discussed changes to legislation during their weekly meeting that would affect any student considering running for Student Body President or Vice President. Presiding Officer and Student Body Vice President Hannah Petracca cautioned Senate members to remain respectful at the beginning of the meeting.

“I understand that the things we are going to discuss today are a little bit sensitive to most of the people in this room,” Petracca said. “Please try to be respectful during the process. You are entitled to your opinion just try to be nice when you say it.”

The SGA meeting mainly consisted of debating GPA requirements for future student body presidents and vice presidents and campaigning rules for future candidates. After receiving time to question the resolutions and offer amendments, the senators voted to reduce the minimum GPA requirement for future student body presidents and vice presidents but chose to postpone a final vote on campaigning rules until next week’s meeting.

The senators and executive board explained there is currently a minimum GPA requirement of 3.25 for anyone wanting to be student body president or vice president. The new resolution reduces the GPA minimum to 3.0. This reduction generated controversy when senators tried to take the university’s average GPA into consideration. 

“I think the GPA requirement should be 3.1 or 3.0 because some people in the judiciary committee said that some people have rough semesters,” said Senator Nattia Inyangette in order to explain why she supported the resolution. 

Other senators and advisers countered those against the resolution by explaining that keeping the GPA requirement at 3.25 would exclude the majority of Marshall students from running. Matt James, the assistant dean of students for involvement and an adviser of the SGA, spoke about how the minimum requirement does not reflect the average GPA for students, noting that the average GPA for Marshall students is 3.02. 

After a general vote and two roll-call votes where each senator took turns placing their votes for the GPA resolution, there was a 22-15 vote to pass the new minimum requirement of 3.0. 

The discussion to add restrictions during Student Government campaigns was postponed to next week after advisers and senators noticed multiple members had to leave the meeting and the new restrictions should be taken seriously, according to James. 

These new rules for campaigning would potentially restrict presidential candidates from campaigning in Towers Marketplace, Harless Dining Hall and the food court sections of the Memorial Student Center, but would allow for campaigning in the lobby of the MSC. 

These potential new rules raised concerns with senators and executives including Student Body President Hunter Barclay who brought up that the rules do infringe on the First Amendment Right to free speech. 

Others, including Sen. Hunter Reedy countered Barclay by explaining students may feel uncomfortable if approached while trying to eat. 

“I remember whenever I did go to the dining halls and everyone was campaigning and people just get bombarded,” Reedy said. “I would like to see if we could not have (campaigning) at all within the dining halls.” 

The SGA meeting for Feb. 26 is expected to include a final vote on the new rules and restrictions for presidential campaigning. 

Sarah Ingram can be contacted at [email protected]