Students’ Association sent out an email on February 20 including four resolutions to be voted on through a link. One of the questions caused controversy, leading Congress to void the ballot and resend an email including eight total resolutions to vote on.
President of SA, Danny Burke, senior marketing major from Tulsa, Oklahoma said the question, asking whether or not the student trusted the decisions of SA congress, was unintentionally confusing.
“Some of the verbiage on exactly what was said did not come across the way it was intended, and so the first question was ‘Yes, I trust the decisions of SA Congress,’ or No, I would like to vote on each resolution individually,'” Burke said. “I guess by default it means if you don’t pick the first one, you’re distrusting, which is not the intent, it just means yes, ‘I voted these students in I trust them.'”
The original four include:
C.R. 94.05, Interview for Treasurer – Last year, no one ran for treasurer, and “there was a little bit of fear, if no one qualified runs, someone could have picked up a petition and got 300 of their friends to sign the petition and then they become treasurer and have no kind of financial background,” Burke said.
C.R. 94.07, Same Ticket – Chris Riley mentioned it last summer, Burke said this year, Congress wanted to elect two people who knew each others goals and knew each other personally to push Congress forward.
“They wanted to ensure that a president and vice president that could work together. In the past, there’s been a president and vice president going in opposite direction creating tension, and congress never actually does anything or moves anywhere.”
Candidates wishing to run alone are still welcome to run on their own. To run, students do not have to be part of Congress.
C.R. 94.11, Student Government Association – “Now, by clarifying ‘Student Government Association,’ the student congress is a body of students that govern how students operate. Student Government Association clarifies what we do, but also keeps us accountable.
C.R. 94.15, Congress Member Voting Rights – This resolution, set in place by Kevin Shurtz, is to amend a typo in the constitution. Referring back to Article II, at some point a new article was added, and it should be moved to Article III.
The new email included four resolutions, and Kelley said the new ballot will likely include a reworded form of the original question, because they still want to have the convince available to those students. Each piece of legislation available for viewing before voting.
“We added four more resolutions to an email that we sent out to the student body,” Kelley said. “Basically, we had students who had concerns about how the voting process went on the first ballot, so we took this opportunity to add the new resolutions that were passed in congress to the same ballot, voided the original ballot to address those concerns, so now we are just doing one ballot with the proper procedure in place, and we are adding more.”
Burke said when he was elected, he wanted to address a couple of major issues including operational efficiency – making sure there was no wasted time or effort and the second was communication with the student body.
“SA has historically failed, I think, at communicating with the student body, including last fall, so some of the next resolutions are going to be put in place, if they pass, to make sure those kinds of things don’t happen anymore,” Burke said.
C.R. 94.13, CCO to Press Secretary – Chief Communications Officer was voted to be changed to Press Secretary. Some of the main functions of Press Secretary would be communicating with The Optimist, having interviews and columns for flow of information. They would be in charge of releasing official statements regarding important issues of congress, and perform all public relations responsibilities, Burke said.
C.R. 94.16, Budget Allocation for Student Organizations – Every year, more and more student organizations request money from SA. As of now, only 45% of the SA budget is allocated to student organizations, but with the resolution, it would be raised to 60%.
“The slices of pie get smaller and smaller when it comes to money,” Burke said. “We are now able to give more money to student organizations, which is what SA does. If we want to build community, we want to build and provide students an opportunity to grow in leadership positions. It’s putting our money where our mouth is. We want to give students more money, we don’t want to hoard anything, we want to serve students.”
Kelley said the primary function now is to serve and allocate money to student organizations, so the primary source of the budget should reflect that.
C.R. 94.22, Executive Admin to Chief of Staff – Burke said Congress really wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a name change, but the titles identify the purpose of the position as well as drawing students into Congress. Burke based the job description on the White House Chief of Staff, which oversees the actions of staff, manages the President’s schedule and who can meet with the president.
C.R. 94.23, SAO to Marketing Director – In the past, Student Activities Officer has been a liaison between Campus Activities Board, because Kelley is CCO as well as part of CAB. Burke said he has been able to fulfill the role, and it was unnecessary to hire the additional person. Burke also said with the CAB office right down the hall, there is no point to the position.
Burke said in his time at ACU before being president, he never remembered voting on anything to amend the constitution, so he had no clear gauge of how much student participation was normal.
“I’d probably say it’s a little bit lower than what I expected, but not by a lot,” Burke said.
Kelley said the challenge is that SA does not have a voting platform, but is still trying to adhere to policy and procedure that is democratic and fair. Previously, students had to login with their ACU email for access, but because of technical problems, banner ID is now the primary form of identification.
A new voting link for students to vote on each individual resolution will be sent out on March 19.