Student Government, Inc., the parent group for all student organizations on campus, has had difficulty meeting quorum during this academic year. The meeting held Feb. 6 was no different as quorum status changed at regular intervals throughout the evening’s proceedings.
The group, responsible for awarding budgets and special allocations to organizations, needs at least 19 of their 35 voting members to reach quorum. Without quorum, a formal meeting cannot be held and important matters cannot be voted upon. Quorum was not met at least three times during the fall semester, according to SGI adviser Darren Morton.
Members of SGI, however, have no one to answer to but themselves when they fail to perform their duties.
After it was determined that quorum had not been reached after the initial roll call on Monday night, the floor erupted into a heated discussion of the issue during SGI President Rich Masana’s report.
“We’re just wasting our time talking about this,” said Jessica Negron, organizations committee co-chair. “We cannot keep doing this (failing to make quorum).”
Members discussed the problems leading to lax attendance along with possible solutions to the problem they face on the floor when quorum is not met.
“We can’t get mad at people who have class, jobs, or whatever,” said Vice President Rene Perez. “Keep in mind that they’re here for school first.”
While many members agreed with Perez’s statement that the students’ top priority must be their education, many also felt that the students should not take on the positions within SGI if they were unable to serve dutifully.
“If they don’t want to be here, [they shouldn’t] take up the obligation,” said Treasurer Wesley Faucher.
Many members also pointed out the fact that it is the representatives, the necessary voting members, who are the ones who fail to attend the meetings. Committee chairs, on the other hand, have a higher rate of attendance. However, committee chairs are unable to vote because they are appointed by the executive board rather than elected by the student population.
“It’s kind of important to differentiate between voting representatives and committee chairs,” said John Buddenhagen, who serves as both a representative to St. John’s College and the co-chair of the student affairs committee. “Committee chairs can present their report and still be doing their duties, but we have the only opportunity to vote here on Monday afternoons.”
School spirit co-chair Jennifer Gorman-Stokes echoed the sentiment, adding her own suggestion for ending the problem.
“Voting members aren’t coming,” she said. “Committee chairs are. Get rid of the people who aren’t coming, not doing their job, allow [the committee chairs] to run for the positions. Once the positions are open anyone who fits that specific role can do it. That’s what would happen anyway. That just puts more responsibility on committee chair members who want to be more involved.”
Junior Senator Steven Szczesny voiced his concern with the proposed solution, saying that it might be difficult for representatives who “wear two hats.” Other members, though, argued that committee chairs are reliable and are already trusted to do a greater amount of work for SGI than are the representatives, who have relatively easy jobs according to some members.
“It’s very easy to just come in here and raise your hand and leave,” said Michael Perez, research and development committee co-chair.
It was also suggested that members of SGI who are continually lax in their attendance be removed.
“It’s in the bylaws that if you miss a certain number of meetings you’re kicked out, so we should stick to that,” said Sylvio Lamisere, a representative for the College of Professional Studies.
The bylaws state that if a member misses five total meetings, or three consecutive meetings, he or she will automatically be terminated. However, many members who seemingly fit the criteria for termination are still on the floor.
“A lot of people find technicalities on excused absences, lateness and things of that nature,” Masana said.
The bylaws, however, state that entering a meeting after roll has been called shall be considered an absence.
Masana then put it to the floor to decide whether action should be taken against delinquent members of SGI.
“Why is that a motion?” said Dan King, a representative for the College of Pharmacy. “That shouldn’t be a motion if it’s in the bylaws.”