SGA Senate votes down bill allowing students to co-author legislation

Kayla Solino | @kaylasolino, Staff Reporter

The Student Government Association voted down a bill that would allow students to co-author legislation with recognition on the Senate docket. The bill also would have expanded endorsement criteria.

The legislation was authored by Sen. Drew St. Charles and Sen. Justin McCleskey. It was endorsed only by Sens. John Dodd and John Richardson.

The bill would allow for a student outside the SGA to be listed as a co-author on proposed resolutions. The legislation reads, “Any student shall be permitted to co-author Resolutions of the Senate, so long as a senator or member of the Executive Council is also listed.”

Currently, students can help senators draft legislation but can not appear as authors on the docket disseminated to the Senate. St. Charles said the only way a student could receive recognition is if the presenting senator acknowledged the student in their summary of the legislation during the meeting.

SGA press secretary Olivia Davis said the organization has already taken steps to ensure senators and students connect.

“The SGA welcomes the opportunity for students to collaborate with senators on initiatives through legislative efforts and we have taken many steps to increase this accessibility to ensure senators can adequately address and advocate for student needs,” Davis said.

St. Charles said the legislation was about acknowledging students.

“I think that students need to be recognized for their hard work. … I think that if a student is passionate about a topic, and they’re willing to come in and put in the work and write legislation alongside a senator, they should be allowed to put their name proudly by the author,” St. Charles said. “And they should proudly be able to stand up and speak.”

St. Charles said the unsuccessful legislation highlights a larger issue in the Senate. Most students only come to the SGA in conflict with an issue, St. Charles said, so student co-authoring would help students bring issues before the senate in a less adversarial way.

During the past two senate sessions, UA student Jacob Hoernlein read a Dr. Seuss book to the senators for three minutes, which is the allotted time for students to express their concerns. Hoernlein runs the @SeussGA Instagram account, whose mission is to “[Treat] UA SGA officials the same way they treat the student body,” per the account’s bio.

Sen. Lauren Rouse argued that spending money for students to read Dr. Seuss is not productive.

“I don’t think we need to be spending money for more Dr. Seuss participants to be able to read at the beginning of the meeting and do not stay through the remainder of the meeting,” Rouse said.

McCleskey said the Senate missed the mark if they could not understand the satire of the students reading Seuss.

“I mean, the Senate just showed they didn’t care about students. It’s pretty clear. And if they’re really going to get angry about Dr. Seuss being read, they really didn’t understand the message that was being sent, which just shows they don’t care about students in the first place,” McCleskey said.
Justin McCleskey is a contributing columnist for The Crimson White.