The Student Government Association Senate voted on and passed the constitutional rewrites for the new governing documents. The new Constitution was also voted on and passed by the student body during homecoming elections. The next step will be a final decision from Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett.
The Senate approved the governing documents. Twenty-seven of the of the 31 senators voted in favor of the new documents with four senators abstaining.
During the constitutional session, the committee mentioned senator involvement. The Senate had two weeks to read and review the revisions. SGA Treasurer Matthew Keller, a senior finance major, said he was not given much feedback from Senate during his presentation or otherwise.
While many members of the committee said they were given no comments, SGA Parliamentarian and junior international business major Dorothy Gault said one Senator stopped her in the hall to ask about senator absentee votes. She said he expressed a disagreement with the proposed system.
Members of the committee shared the senator’s disapproval, Corai Jackson stated the system was not being considered but was suggested during the meetings.
SGA President McKenna Stone and senior mass communication major said the reasoning for not giving senators the ability to have absentee votes was because they would not be present for debate.
“A senator would not be present during debate, and during debate, amendments can be brought up,” Stone said. “[An absent senator] would not really quite know what they are voting on until they have been able to sit through the entire debate.”
Another subject the committee discussed was the qualifications of the senate president pro tempore. The major addition is that senators looking to take the seat must spend one semester as a senator and a semester as part of the budgets and appropriations committee.
Stone said the committee’s decision stems from the fact that the senate president pro tempore is the head of the budget and appropriations committee. She also mentioned the committee added a clause stating that Senate could appeal these requirements if they wanted to vote someone who does not meet them.
“In the past, the president pro tempore has been elected by the Senate body for the Senate body, and it could be any senator,” Stone said. “In the past few years, we have brand new senators get nominated.”
Stone said even she was nominated her sophomore year. She continued that she felt senators were not comfortable with the fact that a new senator could be the head of student organization funding process, meaning they head a committee that decides were thousands of dollars go in student organizations.
The committee also brought up the reorganization of senate seats to follow the academic reorganization. The new Senate organization will not affect current senators and will go into effect next election.
“I think the academic reorg is a bit of a sticky situation, but I think [the new senate organization] is the best option,” Keller said.
Another change affecting senators personally is the addition of a senator impeachment process which Gault said greatly confused the senators initially. The question senators raised was who would be the people to initiate the impeachment.
SGA Attorney General Lauren-Hunter Gaudet, a junior political science major, read the passage in question and said she believes a senator would move to impeach another senator, and the the judicial board would look into the matter.
Among the larger changes were smaller changes consisting of formatting and small additions for clarity.
All of the revised SGA governing documents can be found on the SGA website on the Constitutional Convention page. Stone encouraged students to review the changes before voting on them.
“The way I look at it is, we aren’t done just yet,” Stone said. “I don’t want to be relieved just yet, but I can definitely say the process up to this point has been so rewarding and educational.” Stone said the process of the rewrite has taught her more about what it means to lead and be a part of the SGA.
“I am relieved that we are finally done fine-combing through [the governing documents],” Stone said. “I will be able to finally take a deep breath once everything is over, and Dr. Bennett has signed to approve.”