The University of Georgia Student Government Association held Senate and Executive Cabinet meetings on Oct. 29. In cabinet, the executive officers discussed implementing an in-depth mental health initiative and promoting its newly-proposed student honor code. The senate passed legislation regarding proper election procedures.
SGA members will table outside of the Tate Cafe for three days next week as a part of rolling out the student honor code. Members will ask students to fill out a short survey to determine “what they value as part of the Bulldog community,” SGA Public Affairs Advisor Austin Gibbons said.
The initiative is led by Vice President Melissa Hevener. Hevener wants to design a code of conduct that represents students’ thoughts and feelings of how members of the UGA community should treat one another.
President Rachel Byers addressed SGA’s upcoming mental health initiatives and emphasized SGA’s focus on improving the referral process for students seeking long term care.
Byers said that by working with Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), which caters to students’ short-term mental health care needs, SGA can “act as a liaison between CAPS and the outside community.”
“For a lot of students to make that first step of just going to CAPS in the first place is really huge, and we want to encourage them in that,” Byers said.
In the Senate meeting, Bills 32-07 and 32-08, which explain 2020 election practices, were unanimously passed.
Committee Chair on Statues and Procedures Senator Patrick Femia co-authored the bills with Attorney General Ethan Pender.
Bill 32-07 provides updates to the elections code based on last year’s election. This begins by abolishing a sunset clause, which makes the bill a standing document and will prevent it from having to be resubmitted every year under a new administration.
The bill now requires a campaign liaison system, in which campaigns must have three individual liaisons—primary, financial and chief council—available to meet with the Elections Committee, depending on what information the committee needs.
“One of the things I did was look at where people were sanctioned in the past and where issues had occurred in the past, and then directly addressed those in order to neutralize those sorts of confusions going forward,” Pender said.
Pender explained that one of the more important issues addressed in the bill involves codifying the Election Committee process of asking individuals involved with the campaigns to come and answer questions.
“This has always happened in the past, but there's never been any legal basis for it,” Pender said.
The bill also allows Elections Committee members to submit ethics complaints against them to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court must determine if the evidence of an ethical violation submitted by a committee member is “concrete and verifiable,” according to language in the bill.
Bill 32-08 details a timeline for the 2020 election of the new SGA administration. The process begins Dec. 1, 2019, when the statement of intent form opens. There will be three general candidate seminars, which act as info sessions for prospective candidates, in January, before the statement of intent is due. The timeline also includes the general filing deadline.
The entire election timeline will occur before spring break, including in the event of a runoff. Pender hopes moving the election up will increase voter turnout, since a runoff vote would not be held until the Friday before spring break.
The inauguration of the newly-elected administration is set for April 7, which is “the constitutionally latest day that it can be, which is three weeks before the end of the academic term as defined by the registrar,” Pender said.
Proclamation 32-07 was also passed at the meeting. The proclamation supports the efforts of the College of Pharmacy and the University Health Center in their #FluGA campaign to reach all students with flu shots. Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Senator Ciera Thomas authored the proclamation.
Resolution 32-04, passed in early September which calls for the addition of a mental health statement in all university syllabi, recently passed the UGA Educational Affairs Curriculum Committee. President Pro Tempore Matthew McDaniel said they hope to see the mental health statement on fall 2020 syllabi.