In its Sept. 11 and Sept. 18 meetings, the Student Government Association (SGA) discussed revising its constitution and bylaws. This Monday, the senators unanimously voted to approve this addition along with alterations to the first four articles, which state SGA’s mission, concern SGA membership and participation, and detail the duties of the president and vice president.

Amendments to the constitution and bylaws will be presented to the senate in parts, voted on at the next week’s meeting, then brought to the student body for approval. Many of the changes to the constitution are revisionary in nature and aim to clarify the documents’ previous wording.

“As we can see in our own government, with a document that is written a long time ago, interpretation is an issue,” said senator Amulya Deva, a junior.

The first major change to the constitution is a new preamble:

“As students of Trinity University, we have both a vested interest and a responsibility to see that our University operates at the highest level with a sustained interest in providing the best possible Trinity experience for all. In order to fulfill this responsibility and in accordance with the Student Rights and Responsibilities Section of the Trinity University Student Handbook, we as a student body hereby establish the Trinity University Student Government Association. As a recognized student representative organization, Student Government Association will give direction and voice to student concerns, safeguard student rights, and provide a framework for activities and services for students. We do ordain and establish this Constitution of the Trinity University Undergraduate Student Body to direct our governing entity, provided that no part of this Constitution nor any action taken under its authority shall conflict with the policies of Trinity University.”

Along with amending some repetition and other unclear parts of the document, the senators have proposed the addition of a judicial chair, a position they believe will increase accountability and transparency.

From right to left: Senators Angel Ramirez, Simone Washington and Juan Luevanos listen intently at a meeting. Secretary Tahlar Rowe sits behind them. photo by Chloe Sonnier

“The judicial chair will be a member of SGA, but they will have the responsibility of acting independently and impartially,” said senator Callie Struby, junior. “They will be appointed by the Student Conduct Board (SCB) to sit and serve on SGA as an oversight to make sure that we are leading our constitution. What that means in practice is that they will be here mainly for impeachment hearings and for removals from office and also to institute what we’re going to call the demerit system.”

The chair will be responsible for interpreting the constitution and deciding whether or not senators offend it in any way. The demerit system will make this process easier. Demerits will be issued when senators act out of line with the constitution. After five demerits, a senator is considered ‘not in good standing.’

“The process is fair because we’re only going to award demerits when things are so unreasonable they are getting in the way of us conducting SGA business,” Deva said.

SGA hopes that this chair will add more transparency and accountability to the group. Although all of the senators voted to have this position in the constitution, the specifics of it will be in the bylaws, which will be voted on after the constitution reviews are agreed upon.

“The idea has been pretty well-received by everyone who has heard it. The judicial chair is basically a member of SGA that’s independent, appointed by a body who has yet to be decided yet — we’re hoping Student Conduct Panel. They will make sure people are held accountable for being attentive at meetings, inappropriate dress code, being respectful of other senators,” Struby said.

“They’ll be more of a liaison than anything else,” said SGA president Nick Santulli, a senior.

Struby and Deva, two of the senators who spearheaded the revisions, emphasized the importance of the senators as representatives for all of Trinity’s student body, not just the class that elects them.

“Once you’re on SGA, you represent Trinity as a whole. That’s in the document. You represent all the classes, alumni to a certain extent, you represent the university community as a whole,” Struby said.

More information about SGA meetings, agendas and minutes can be found on Trinity’s website or by emailing sga@trinity.edu.

The Trinitonian will print weekly summaries of SGA meetings. Look out for the “Previously, on SGA” segment on page 2 every week.