Student government introduces guided caucus, puts pause on international representative bill

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Speaker of the Assembly Jakob Lucas, center, calls for the legislative body to vote on fast tracking the legislative process of A.B.8, an amendment to the spring budget appropriations, on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 in the Legislative Assembly room of the William C. Powers Student Activity Center. Discussion on the amendment was taken up 29 for, 2 against, and 1 abstaining.

Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

Student leaders gathered to discuss bills covering international student representatives and spring budget appropriations during the Student Government assembly meeting Tuesday.  

The bill to add an international student representative position in SG was put up for its second reading in front of the assembly. The bill was introduced last semester but was not voted on and was brought back to the assembly during the meeting.

In the bill’s second reading, the author and sponsors said they want to add the position to ensure the concerns of international students — who make up over 10% of the student body — are heard.

“The goal of the legislation is to hold a referendum in the fall semester to give the student body the choice to add a representative position whose sole job is to represent international students in the assembly,” said Jakob Lucas, speaker of the assembly. “It would be blind to the candidate’s school or program and be merely whether or not they’re classified by the administration as an international student.”

The assembly debated the bill during an extended Q&A period and unanimously voted to send the bill back to the rules and regulations committee to be reamended. Student body president Camron Goodman said the main priority of SG should be to make sure every single student feels represented.

“We notice a lot of issues in the (international) community that no one ever bothered to bring up to the assembly,” communications representative Gabrielle Wongso said. “Unless you experience it, there’s no way you would know.”

 

Before voting on each piece of legislation began, the assembly participated in SG’s first guided caucus, where representatives split into groups to discuss legislation, following representative Kerry Mackenzie’s survey results last week about the climate of the assembly. Last week, the survey found that not all representatives felt their voices were heard in the assembly. 

Lucas said in the meeting that the goal of the guided caucus is to give all representatives a chance to make their voices heard before voting.

“A lot of the time there are very strong voices in the assembly that can polarize different groups,” said representative Michael Pontikes. “The opinions that came out of (the caucus) were not as polarizing. I’m really glad Mackenzie made that because it’s a really good way for reps to talk about things.”