By Kelsi Peace, Managing Editor
The Students’ Association Congress considered a leadership workshop, passed a previously tabled bill to create an internal affairs committee and voted down a bill to protect members’ privacy at Wednesday’s meeting.
Graduate students Eric Wallace, Marie Womplou and Shepherd Mbumwae approached Congress about a proposed leadership training they will conduct as part of a class.
“We can learn one or two things from you, and you can learn one or two things from us,” Mbumwae told Congress.
The team, called Shepherd’s Flock, has observed the organization for the past few weeks, compiling advice to improve leadership and team training. Lance Davis is also a team member.
“Given the choice of being ordinary or magnificent, which would you chose?” Wallace challenged representatives, encouraging them to register for the workshop.
The training sessions are voluntary, and members who filled out a survey on Wednesday committed to three hours of training.
“I think it does offer a real potential for all of us,” Dr. Jeff Arrington,associate dean of campus life, said. Arrington said he has committed to the workshop.
After tabling a bill to create an ad hoc Internal Affairs Committee last week, Congress resurrected the legislation, amending the bill to make all members eligible by vote of the bill’s authors. The director of Internal Affairs, vice president Daniel Paul Watkins, will break any ties.
The bill’s authors, freshman senator Jeareme Mosley, senior senator Brandon Smith, Don Morris Rep. Tony Godfrey and Gibson Rep. Jared Elk, said they seek to eliminate internal arguments from general SA meetings to allow for a more external focus.
“We’re not saying those debates shouldn’t happen,” Godfrey said. “[But] our meeting should be about affairs external to this organization.” The ad hoc committee has the power to make recommendations to congress, but does not have the ability
to take action without approval from congress.
Chief development officer Ryan Stephen endorsed the bill, telling Congress its squabbling over internal affairs has been “hindering progress” and doing a “disservice to the student body.”
“We been working so much and bickering so much amongst ourselves,” Stephen said.
University Park Rep. Casey Bingham, echoed Stephen’s sentiments, and said he thinks the committee will free up time to focus issues students care about.
Congress passed the bill with 33 votes and two votes opposing, one abstaining.
University Park Rep. Caleb Archer presented a bill to revoke the right of the meeting’s director – usually Worthington – to require a reason from representatives who leave the meeting early. Under current regulations, Parliamentarian Matt Greenberg said, Worthington has the power to ask for a reason and deny a representative’s request to leave a meeting early.
Archer called the rule a double standard, telling Congress that absent members are not required to offer a reason. And the judgment call also caused problems for supporters. “I think there’s a certain stipulation that one reason is better than another,” Archer said.
Abby Barnes, sophomore senator, supported the legislation, touting the rights of representatives to keep personal reasons for leaving a meeting to themselves.
Jared Elk opposed the bill, telling Congress that the legislation was “crippling power” and the privacy issue could be solved if representatives approached Worthington before the meeting. Also, Elk said, by leaving a meeting early – and technically off the record – representatives are “killing the accountability of the student congress.”
The bill failed 12 votes supporting, 20 opposing and 3 abstaining.