Students’ Association by-law in question

Editorial Board

Issue:  Amendment 13-01-A, which calls for more accountability for ex-officio attendance at Students’ Association meetings, is currently being discussed in student senate. 

There are currently over 200 different student groups at SDSU. If one of these groups lacks a political stance and feels underrepresented with the SA, they have the ability to gain an ex-officio position, which gives them a voice in our student senate. These members are not allowed to vote on issues or make motions during meetings. There are 11 student groups with ex-officio positions, including the Residence Hall Association, Gay Straight Alliance and the Black Student Alliance.  To attain an ex-officio position, groups write a letter to SA explaining why they feel underrepresented and ask to have an ex-officio member.

Found in the Students’ Association by-laws, Article V, Section 1, Subsection G, point 5 currently states that an ex-officio is given one year of absence before their voice is stripped from the senate floor. SA wants to trim up that one-year timeline to three weeks.  An extremely drastic change for something as important as the voice of a student group, which makes us wonder exactly why three weeks’ absence is the proposed deadline. 

Senators are given three unexcused absences from senate or committee meetings. We can see where the parallels are drawn for ex-officio, however there are exceptions for the former and not the latter. Senators are given the option to ask for an excuse if they’re sick, have a test, a family emergency, severe weather or a university excused absence. There is no talk of giving ex-officio members this same privilege even though this amendment then holds the ex-officio members to the same standard as senators. 

While SA meets weekly and senators are expected to be at those meetings, among other things, as part of their duties, many clubs and organizations with an ex-officio may not meet weekly. If they meet quarterly, three weeks may not be enough time to realize the representative is not able to attend the weekly meetings and to elect a new representative.  More than three weeks to get proper representation should be given to ex-officios since it’s something given to senators. 

What exactly brought this change? Is there a student group that this particular amendment is pointed at? Seeing as there was no grievance, to our knowledge, for missing ex-officios filed before this amendment, this idea seems way out of left field, especially when there are a lot of more important things to discuss at this university. 

We are rapidly expanding, student money is being spent and student senate is worried about the attendance of their meetings. 

If ex-officios were given the privilege to vote on issues, then we could see the harshness of the amendment, however they’re given just the right to voice their groups opinion, so what difference does it make if they are there or not? 

Senate meetings still run without a hiccup in an ex-officios absence. Their voice is important and they should be able to use it whenever they want. 

 Stance: If SA wants to hold ex-officios to the same standard then they should be given more of an ability to be excused from meetings.