Wallace fields questions ahead of student vote on new SGA constitution
This past week, the Chief Justice took questions from students on the new constitution for the SGA. Here are some of his notable answers.
This past Tuesday and Thursday in Haury Hall, the Student Government Association (SGA) held a pair of information sessions for its new constitution. These meetings were held to give students an opportunity to talk with SGA members directly about changes they want to see and learn more about the constitution before the student body vote on Monday.
The constitution project began last spring when former SGA president Thomas Kucera tasked Wallace with the job of revising the document to replace the nearly 8-year old constitution.
“Thomas was our SGA president last year and he and I just got to looking at the constitution one day and realized it was really outdated,” said Wallace, senior from Chickasha, Okla. “And Thomas was like, ‘Alright, you’re writing a new constitution.’ And I was like, ‘Alright, I guess I’m writing a new constitution.’”
With a committee that consisted of Kucera, Coordinator of Student Activities & Engagement Sam Bond, and former VP for Student Life Sam Haynes, Wallace worked through the old constitution. Through this process, the committee made cuts and rewrote material so that it would be relevant to today’s student body and a lot easier to read.
“I’d like to thank President Taylor Dashney and Vice President Josh Kennel, Wallace said. “Matt Fleck and Hayden Wallace are two senators that also helped in this process. The entire Student Government Association pitched in on this. I’m glad to see it’s finally coming to an end because it’s been a long process. I’m ready for it to be over so I can focus on other matters that we need to handle.”
In general, Wallace worked to create more accountability for senators and SGA members while eliminating bias within the new document. At the information sessions, Wallace fielded questions and shed some light on the new constitution. Here are some of his notable answers about the constitution and the SGA as an organization.
Q: Why was it kept on the down-low?
“We wanted to be able to make a document that we felt would best represent the student body before we started getting input … and then have the student body come in and decide whether those ideas would truly represent them.”
Q: What were the most heavily debated topics?
“Honestly, it was the attendance policy, the committees, presidents of clubs, and and/or clauses. … There was a debate for a minute on should we set a requirement for how long someone has to tell the vice president that they’re going to miss a senate meeting. We ended up deciding that should probably be something like an informal expectation. … We plan on doing yearly training sessions for the [SGA] and that’ll be something that’s brought up.”
Q: What do you think is the most impactful change?
“To me, the most impactful change that we made would be we changed up how [students are] represented. Right now, [they’re] represented by class and we’ve switched it to dorm. In some ways it’ll still have the same layout … if you’re living in the mods or Voth, you’re going to have a completely different experience living on campus than you would in Haury. We’ve also lowered the number of senators from 17 to 10 to just kind of have a smaller, more concise senate.”
Q: What’s the second most impactful change?
“The Senate decided they wanted to get rid of committees. The committees function in a lot of different ways. So if you were on a committee, you were assigned to certain aspects of campus life. … They decided to get rid of those and instead opted to just create ad-hoc committees as the need arises for a committee. Which I also think would be extremely impactful because it allows the Senate as well as SGA as a whole to designate more resources at once to tackling a topic versus trying to tackle an array of topics throughout the year.
“We also came up with a new budgeting system. In the past … the chief of staff (now Secretary of Treasury) … would create a finance budget committee and then the clubs would come at the end of the year and give a reason for why they feel like they deserve a certain amount of money. … Since the committees are gone now, the Secretary of the Treasury would essentially create an ad-hoc committee and then deal with the budgeting systems.
“Another change which will roll into effect next year is all the clubs will have to give monthly budget reports. The main reason for that is 1) so they’re aware of the amount of money they have consistently throughout the year and where that money is going, and 2) so at the end of the year when the budgeting process happens, we have a record of how they spent their money and it’ll allow us to easily determine how much money they need or should keep.”
Q: What did you cut out of the old constitution?
“Whoever wrote the previous constitution, when they would add something in there they would give a three-page explanation of why they did that, why they thought it was necessary, how much money they spent on it, what the student body thought — which I can understand why they did that, but it also was just, in my opinion, a bunch of random nonsense. … That’s mainly pretty much what I cut out. Also just refined a lot of things, updated a lot of stuff to 2022-2023 versus 2016 when it was last updated.”
Q: What’s the voting process for students going to look like on Monday?
“We’ll have an announcement at Convo on Monday just saying, ‘hey, voting is live’ and the ballot will probably be open from 11 a.m. to probably 5 [p.m.]. If the student body feels like it needs a longer time to vote, let me know and we can definitely look at keeping it open all day Monday. Everyone would be restricted to one vote so no one would be able to go in and vote yes or no multiple times. … My advice would be to skim through it and get your own opinion about it. On Sunday, we’re having another SGA meeting and you could always come Sunday and voice opinions that you think we need to change or keep.”
Q: Can you talk about elections?
“So if anyone is interested in joining SGA, our elections are coming up. … One of the changes in the constitution is we’ve pushed presidential elections up to six weeks before finals week [instead of] three or four. Just to get the President-elect more time to kind of observe and learn versus having three weeks before being thrown into the fire.
“Elections will be announced on the 28th. … If you want to run, you can go to the SGA website and get a form off the official forms tab or you can go to Sam Bond’s office and she has some petitions on her door.
“On [March 17], anyone who is looking to run for President or Vice President, their petitions will be due. Then on the 20th, campaigning will start. That will run through the 27th. On the 27th, Election Day will begin and the election ballots will close on the 28th with the winner being announced on the 29th. … That Friday, March 31st, the senate petitions will be due for anyone looking to run for the Senate. They’ll have from [April 3] to the 10th to campaign. Senate elections will start on the 10th and close on the 11th. The winners will be announced on the 12th.”
Q: What are some things that you see taking place sooner — like by the end of this semester?
“Office hours for the SGA will probably fall into effect the rest of the year [upon] passage [of the new constitution]. The justices will randomly be popping by club meetings every now and then just to make sure that clubs are meeting. We also changed our oath of office. … If the constitution passes on Monday, I'll have to write a transition plan for what we’re going to implement now and what’s going to happen next year.”
Q: Is there an accessible way for students and people on campus to see the minutes from each SGA meeting?
“No, we send out the agenda. But I agree, I think the student body should be able to see the minutes every week. We should definitely look into that for sure.”
Q: What does the SGA actually do?
“What SGA is designed to do is represent the student body. We can advocate [with] President Gering and try to get changes made. … We’re in charge of clubs. If someone wants to create a club, you get a petition from the Student Life office or our website, then get signatures from students who would be interested in joining that club, and come to SGA and ask to make a club.”
The SGA will hold its next meeting on Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Will Academic Center, room 203.