SA Senate amends bylaws to streamline senate procedures

Media Credit: Elissa Detellis | Photographer

Senators unanimously passed the Band Aid Act to "improve efficiency" within the body.

The Student Association Senate amended the SA’s bylaws at its meeting Monday to streamline senate operations, including clarifications for voting and the staff appointment process.

Senators unanimously passed the Band Aid Actto improve efficiency within the Senate,” removing a required 24-hour notice period for senators to vote by proxy and reducing the threshold needed to pass resolutions from two-thirds of the entire senate to two-thirds of senators present. SA Sen. Cordelia Scales, SEAS-U and senate chairperson pro tempore, sponsored the legislation and said the amended bylaws should fit with recent changes made to the SA’s constitution that eradicated vague or conflicting language.

The amended bylaws also require senators to submit public comment to the senate secretary before meetings and enable the vice president to appoint additional senate staff members beyond a set of positions mandated by the SA’s regulations. The senate’s presiding officer must also report presidential vetos at meetings under the changes.

“Because we have a new constitution this year, we had to have new bylaws to go along with it,” Scales said in a statement. “They go hand in hand. And we did a few things to make it easier for us to pass things especially at the beginning of the year when there tends to be a lot of vacancies.”

The changes also loosen a cap on co-sponsorship funding, which had previously limited the maximum grant amount to one percent of the SA’s starting co-sponsorship fund. Grants will be limited to $7,500 under the amended bylaws.

The SA completed a major overhaul of the bylaws last spring to scrape out discrepancies with a new constitution approved last year. The updates included reforming election guidelines and increasing the number of senate committees from four to nine.

At Monday’s meeting, senators also unanimously voted to reinstate SA Sen. Kyle Johnson, G-at-Large, after he was suspended last month for missing three SA senate and five finance committee meetings this fall. Scales, the sponsor of the special resolution and the chair of the governance and nominations committee, said Johnson expressed interest to serve on a new committee and has separated his work email from his school email to solidify his role.

“As an active duty military online graduate student, he has a unique voice that we desperately need and because of this, the committee is of the opinion that he should be reinstated,” Scales said.

SA Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U and the chair of the finance committee, said his committee approved $11,000 in co-sponsorship requests from Nov. 1 to Nov. 14, including a nearly $1,000 allocation to the International Students Association for its fall banquet. Xu said student organizations need to apply before Nov. 29 to receive any remaining co-sponsorship funding this fall so the committee can approve requests before the senate’s last meeting of the semester.

SA Vice President Kate Carpenter said in her vice presidential report that members of the SA will work with the University to promote the U-Pass program that GW announced it would join earlier this month. She said SA members will assist the University’s rollout of Metro cards to students, who will receive “regular” SmarTrip cards for use starting on Dec. 1 through the end of the semester before receiving  “specialized” cards in January.

Undergraduates will be automatically enrolled in the program, which will offer unlimited Metro rides for a $100 charge per semester, while graduate students can opt out. The Student Bar Association Senate passed a resolution last week urging the University to provide an option for all students to enroll in U-Pass, including part-time graduate students who may commute to campus more than undergraduate students.

SA Sen. Andrew Wise, Law-G, asked Carpenter whether the SA had plans to include part-time and night students in other University transportation initiatives. Carpenter said WMATA sets a policy restricting U-Pass enrollment to full-time students, so the University did not choose to exclude part-time students.

The senate will hold its last meeting of the calendar year Dec. 6 at 8:30 in the University Student Center.

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