Bylaws bill tabled, several initiatives briefed
The Student Government Association tabled the bylaws reformation bill June 6, postponing further discussion until the next meeting after technical questions were raised about task forces being listed as authors of the bill and some authors being listed as sponsors, creating a conflict of interest.
The bill should be brought up again for voting at the meeting June 20, when SGA Speaker Stephen Cronin is expected to return. SGA President Cedric Bandoh acted as the speaker at last week’s meeting in Cronin’s absence.
Major changes the bill would instate are the creation of the Department of Justice, which will oversee the enforcement of the bylaws, and the new position of SGA Attorney General under this new department. This position would be in charge of appointing the chief election commissioner and ensuring that bills and resolutions passed meet the policies outlined in the constitution and bylaws.
“With everything that transpired a couple of months ago, questions could be raised on bias toward certain parties during a case since the president does appoint that chief election commissioner,” Bandoh said.
“Also, if the president were to run for re-election, questions of bias (could arise in that situation as well).”
The postponement caused a delay in the full appointment of public relations senior Jeanette Rivera as Director of Public Relations, and she was appointed interim director instead. Full appointment would have required the power granted by the new set of bylaws to suspend a bylaw that disallows full appointments during the summer senate session.
“I want to execute the duties and the clauses of the bylaws to the best of my abilities representing a continual flow of information to the students, educators, staff and alumni,” Rivera said.
“The goal is mutual communication and to raise awareness of SGA initiatives and activities by increased collaboration with other student organizations.”
Also at the meeting, Kathryn Peek, assistant vice president for UH Health Initiatives, gave a special report on the progress of the tobacco task force created by Provost John Antel, and Bandoh discussed in his report the rise in Stafford loan interest rates expected to take effect July 1, encouraging the senators to take action and contact Congress.
“We all know the current state of our economy and we know how much debt students are in. I don’t feel it’s the time to double interest rates given our economic climate,” Bandoh said. “I really welcome you guys to join me in this fight.”
SGA Vice President Turner Harris discussed the state of the SGA app, which is in the process of being created. He has contacted Civitas Learning, and hopes this company could provide a more sophisticated functionality.
“Our app could be able to suggest courses and do all sorts of higher tech stuff that we would like it to do,” Harris said. “This is the company that can provide us with this information.”
He also discussed a collaborative effort with the College of Architecture and the College of Technology on a proposal for the implementation of radio-frequency identification to help solve parking issues by allowing for a more accurate measure of available spots.
“We are constantly in pursuit of services we don’t offer to our students already,” Harris said. “I really think that’s something that can benefit the students and administration here.”
Christopher Holly, executive chief of staff, discussed the changes to the Emergent Leadership Program, which includes appointing 40 interns for the different branches within the SGA and bringing in leadership training for other organizations on campus.
Director of External Affairs Mark Solano reminded everyone of the voter registration booth open from 4 to 5 p.m. every Thursday and announced that they are developing the legislative agenda and encouraged anyone interested in presenting to the Texas Senate or House committees to contact him.
Finally, Director of Finance Sieda Omar’s report provided insight into the discount programs set up for students in the 2012-2013 academic year. She has invested in the Student Savings Club, which will provide at least 30 discounts at different local vendors close to campus.
“With this program, all the student needs is their student ID card versus having to have an actual discount card,” Omar said. “Hopefully we will have (the list of vendors) out by the last couple of orientations.”