SG reform bills passed unanimously to ensure greater accountability

Mackenzie Sullivan, Senior News Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Feb. 4, 2022 flipbook.

Student Government unanimously passed two reform bills designed to make structural and ethical changes to SG’s governing documents at an assembly meeting Tuesday. The bills aim to ensure greater accountability among members. 

Authored by College of Liberal Arts representatives Kevin Roberts and Jerold Holman, A.B. 13 amends SG’s Code of Rules and Procedures, and A.B. 14 amends SG’s Constitution. The bills create a code of conduct for SG members, add more university-wide representatives and outline a process for impeachment among other things.

When the idea for reform bills arose in November, Roberts said they initially planned small-scale changes, but as he and Holman worked on the legislation over winter break, the need for greater changes was evident. 

“Following a series of conversations from students, it was clear that Student Government wasn’t meeting that threshold it should be meeting,” Holman said. “We should all be held to really high expectations for our students.”

A major change to the Code of Rules and Procedures is the implementation of a code of conduct, which details punishments for SG members who commit offenses outlined in the document such as harassment or abusing their positions. Roberts said a code of conduct will hopefully make SG members more mindful of ethics following last semester’s scandals among executive members, which included allegations of sexual assault against former vice president Ethan Jones. 

“Members will be much more careful with the actions that they do take and make sure they’re not breaking any rules,” Roberts said. “I think with having them here now, and having them enforced, we can really ensure that people follow the rules and do the right thing always.”

Four new universitywide representatives and a line of succession for the student body president will be added to the constitution, according to A.B. 14. The bill also lays out a clear impeachment procedure after the failed impeachment of some executive members last month. 

An amendment to A.B. 13 allows representatives with an excused absence to vote before the meeting, which the authors hope will address issues SG faced with meeting quorum. 

“We thought this was a good compromise of making sure there (were) procedures in place that allowed us to continue to hit quorum, but still making sure we were getting the representation that was needed from the student body on all the pieces of legislation,” said Braxdon Cannon, speaker of the assembly.

Cannon said SG previously passed some measures to regulate member conduct, but having an official code of conduct ensures greater accountability. 

“This is definitely something that I think the assembly can all agree is moving in the right direction just because the provisions in the code of conduct are obvious,” said Cannon, a mathematics and sustainability studies sophomore. 

Holman and Roberts said they had ongoing conversations with the student body and assembly members to gather input and ensure the bills fulfilled their main goal of improving SG for students and members alike. 

Roberts said the assembly’s passage of the two bills marks the beginning of many reformative changes he intends to make within SG.

“These rules and this legislation that we wrote are just a down payment to further significant changes (and) structural changes we intend to make,” Roberts said.