At the Feb. 19 meeting of the University of Georgia Student Government Association Senate meeting, Senators passed an amendment changing the presiding officer of the Senate.
The Senate also passed a resolution to offer resources for menstruation across campus, a resolution to encourage UGA to have a full week of Thanksgiving break in 2021 and a resolution to allow students to reschedule tests.
Replacing the vice president
Amendment 31-01 passed with 73 percent approval from senators. Numerous people outside of Senate appeared to speak on the amendment, with former Vice President Roya Naghepour and former Attorney General Katherine Twomey speaking in opposition, while former SGA Senator Max Harris spoke in favor of the amendment.
Author and Senator Patrick Femia presented the legislation, which creates the “President of the Senate” position to replace the Vice President as presiding officer of the Senate. Senators debated the proposal for more than 45 minutes, calling for multiple extensions to the original 10-minute debate period.
“I envision a Senate that has the ability to seek independent initiatives and is viewed as a truly coequal branch of government among university administrators, the outside world and everybody else in between,” Femia said.
Several senators voiced their concerns, many of whom called the measure “drastic.” Other concerns included the exclusion of appointed senators in the election of Senate officers and the lack of prior steps taken to alleviate Senate’s staffing concerns.
“I think it is a nuclear bomb to fix an anthill,” Senator Ali Elyaman said. “I do actually think it would be an issue that only elected senators would pick the President of the Senate.”
Ultimately, the amendment prevailed with 73 percent of the Senate supporting it. As a constitutional amendment, it must be voted on by the student body to be ratified. The amendment could be presented during SGA elections in March, or as comments at the Senate meeting indicated, delayed until the fall on procedural grounds.
Passed and proposed initiatives
The Senate also approved a resolution to provide more menstrual care products in restrooms across campus and a resolution to encourage the UGA administration to have a week-long Thanksgiving break in 2021. President Ammishaddai Grand-Jean’s proposal to allow students to reschedule a third exam within a 24-hour period also passed unanimously.
In his officer report, Grand-Jean discussed two initiatives. One was the grade scale policy initiative to add an A-plus that he discussed at the previous Senate meeting. The other was his administration’s push to allow students to be able to donate meal swipes.
Grand-Jean said, in light of federal laws causing food swipe donations to have potentially adverse effects on financial aid, his administration was exploring the possibility of creating a food pantry with unused paw points or meal scholarships for a small number of students with donated swipes.
Executive Director of Operations Dominique Ferrell delivered Treasurer Destin Mizelle’s officer report. SGA Small Clubs Allocations approved about $800 of applications last week and progress on his “resource domain” initiative. In previous SGA meetings, Mizelle has described the resource domain as a digital effort to consolidate all on-campus resources in the same website for easy student access.
President Pro Tempore Max Sumner presided over the meeting due to Vice President Charlene Marsh’s absence. Legislation dealing with the memorialization of enslaved peoples at UGA was tabled for next week given the long meeting.