The Student Government Association of Southern Miss announced they will begin working on revisions to the SGA constitution over the summer and into the fall semester of the 2018/2019 school year. The rewrites will include a code of ethics for members of the SGA, make clarifications and fix inconsistencies within the document.
SGA President and junior communications major McKenna Stone said she has been considering the revisions for a year but was waiting for the SGA to confirm the revisions.
“There is a lot of exciting potential for real change,” Stone said. “What motivated me to change the constitution would be all of the contradictions.”
Stone said the SGA has gotten to the point where a rewrite is needed, partly because of the new leadership that has occurred. Lauren-Hunter Gaudet, a sophomore political science major and SGA Attorney General, said she believes it has been four or five years since the last revision and, like Stone, sees the importance of it.
One of the biggest changes to the constitution will be the inclusion of a code of ethics for the SGA.
“Right now, the Senate has the power to impeach officers, but there is nothing stating the removal of SGA membership,” Stone said. “So what is holding SGA members accountable in terms of ethical qualities?”
Gaudet said as attorney general her job is to read and interpret the SGA constitution, and she will be very involved with the writing and editing process that will come.
“I like to think of the SGA constitution as my baby. I have to be familiar with all of it,” Gaudet said. “We have already begun the process rewriting the constitution. I have looked through it from beginning to end looking for all of the inconsistencies.”
“I am going into my third year on SGA,” Gaudet said. “I’ve read through [the constitution] myself. I am very clear on how it works, but it is a very hard read even for me. There are things I read through that I still don’t understand.”
Stone said that other than the code of ethics there will also be an addition to the election process, making it possible to vote online rather than at the election booths they currently use. Stone said other SGA’s around the country have already implemented this method.
The rewrite came in response to the academic reorganization within Southern Miss in order to better accommodate students.
Caroline Carney SGA Senate President Pro Tempore, Senator for the College of Arts and Letters and double major in history and political science said the merger will be taken into account with the new structure of the SGA senate.
“As it works now, we have representatives from all of the colleges,” Carney said. “What our job will be at the constitutional conventions will be to try to figure out how to proportion the seats to where every student is represented.”
Stone also stressed the cooperation between the Hattiesburg and Gulf park campuses. She said the two SGA governing bodies will be working together to update the constitution.
“We, for the first time, are actually partnering with the SGA at the Gulf park campus.” Stone said. “Right now there is nothing in the constitution that recognizes [Gulf Park SGA] or the partnership we formed with them.”
Stone said the SGA president at the Gulf Park campus will be calling for a constitutional revision soon as well. Stone declined to give specific examples of revisions or clarifications.
“I don’t want to be too specific because, until I meet with the committee, I really can’t give those specifics,” Stone said. “I want to keep it as vague as possible to give the committee the autonomy they deserve.”
Stone said students will not be directly affected by the changes unless they decide to become a part of the SGA, but the SGA constitution is an important part of student government because they have to check it before any decision can be made.