Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Organization of SGA evolves through the years

The UA Student Government Association adopted its constitution in 1914, stating that “the supreme purpose of this institution is to train young men and women in higher principles of citizenship.” The original goal was to mold into a single, organized unit of government for realization of a common purpose.

This year, the SGA formed a committee, the Constitution Revision Committee, to draft a new SGA Constitution, said Attorney General Ryan Sprinkle. The committee represented all three branches of the SGA.

“The CRC’s work was guided by four over-arching principles: accountability, functionality, inclusivity and transparency,” she said.

Those principles are among many that the SGA, or Student Association of the University of Alabama, as it was originally named, was founded upon.

In the beginning, a president, vice president and secretary treasurer were the only three officers. Separate committees existed for men and women, reflecting the national politics of 1917.

Rules and regulations were passed to enforce seniority over freshmen. Males had to wear green, uniform-class caps at all times with the letter “F” on the brim as stipulated in the constitution. Offenders found themselves charged up to $5 for forgetting their hats, and upon a fourth offence, the offenders were asked to withdraw from the University.

A student could not simply declare the intent to run for a Student Government Association office in 1917. Instead, another student who would collect the signatures of at least 8 percent of the student body on a petition for candidacy could nominate him or her.

In 1961, a new constitution was adopted. One can still see when SGA divided into a legislative, executive and judicial branch, and began to set standards for student organizations on campus, and could submit their own budget.

The SGA rewrote its constitution once again in 1969. The SGA created a preamble, set salaries for officers and created a longer, more detailed structure of government. It included a 9-page outline for the process of cheerleading tryouts, going so far as to stipulate the head cheerleader must be a male, and a female could only be selected if there were no qualified males.

The constitution experienced minor changes again in the early 1980s, gaining a bill of rights, and the document was not touched again except for minor amendments until catastrophe struck in 1993.

In February of that year, President Roger Sayers suspended the SGA and postponed student elections due to an assault on SGA presidential candidate Minda Riley. Headlines in The Crimson White said “Riley Assaulted by Masked Intruder” and “SGA Shut Down.”

“Minda Riley has a golf-ball-size bruise on her cheek, a busted lip and a knife wound on the side of her face,” an article stated.

Apparently, this assault was nothing compared to alleged cross burnings, phone tappings, rape threats and FBI investigations surrounding the elections and a corrupt political Machine that had been in power for 20 years, according to The Crimson White.

When the SGA was finally allowed to reconstruct in 1996, University administrators became much more involved and demanded major changes in the operations.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction that they are rewriting the constitution,” said Rebecca Howard, a sophomore majoring in restaurant and hospitality management. “The fact that someone is making more of an effort to listen to the whole student body and not just a select group of SGA members is big.”

Howard said she was really against the previous constitution because of a lack of transparency.

“There was that whole Pasadena trip last year, and people start to wonder where all this money comes from and why so few people have access to it,” she said. “The student body deserves to have input or at least be notified what is being spent. I think we needed a 100 percent change.”

Sprinkle believes this constitution will renew the SGA and provide an opportunity for all students on campus to participate.

“The new SGA Constitution will provide the framework for accountable, functional, inclusive and transparent student self-government at the University of Alabama,” Sprinkle said. “The election and selections processes for all appointed and elected officials of SGA has been clearly defined, the Senate has been empowered to lead itself and proper checks-and-balances are now in place for all branches of government.”

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