Student government modifies format

Luke Heslip, Co-Editor-in-Chief

A revised constitution and new bylaws altered the makeup and increased the autonomy of the students’ representative government following last spring’s student elections.

The Student Government Assembly (SGA), drafted and passed the first bylaws, or inter-body operational rules, in the college’s nearly 100-year history, SGA chair Joshua Pinaula said.

Santa Rosa Junior College students voted to pass an amended constitution in the April 2015 elections, which provided the SGA with three new elected seats and eliminated one existing position bringing their total of elected chairs to 13.

This was the first constitutional amendment since Spring 2012, according to Student Affairs records.

Sonoma County Junior College District board of trustees sanctioned the bylaws and constitution over the summer.

The bylaws facilitate greater control for the SGA over it functions, such as defining its positions and responsibilities and clarifying committee structure.

Prior to the bylaws the SGA was unable to modify or redefine such things without a student wide election.

“I think it gives more opportunity for more students to be involved [about the reforms],” said SGA advisor and Dean of Student Affairs Robert Ethington.

He continued, “At the end of the day this is more about student engagement and development than it is about governance.” He added that many students probably think the reverse.

The student constitution already codified Alice Sturgis’s parliamentary procedure and the Brown Act— a state code regulating public meetings— as the SGA’s principle guidelines. The bylaws specify areas where these policies don’t.

The constitution provides for non-elected at-large representatives in the SGA. The bylaws define these officers as assembly members.

Assembly members are non-voting SGA officials and do not count towards quorum, which is the minimum number of members present necessary to commence an official session.

The SGA’s quorum is a simple majority of seven members.

Elected SGA chairs appoint assembly members by a majority vote as temporary agents of the body, usually for a specific cause or initiative.

Their positions expire on graduation day of the academic year in which the SGA appointed them.

Assembly members may sit on one regular committee and one SGA standing committee. They may also chair ad-hoc committees.

The bylaws clarify the SGA’s proxy policy. The new procedures allow for a current SRJC student to stand in for SGA members, with the exception of the SGA chair, in public sessions.

The bylaws do not factor the proxies into quorum or attendance; neither can they propose official motions.

The only substantial power of proxies is they can vote in an SGA’s officer’s stead.

Several elected SGA members did not assume their offices.

Vice President of Student Health elect Diana Kingsbury transferred to the University of California Berkley in the Fall 2015 semester. The SGA promoted Feminist Club leader Hannah Cagle to the office.

The SGA disappointed Hakeem Sanusi July 27 as the vice president of finance after he failed to attend two mandatory SGA gatherings and shirked other responsibilities, according to Pinaula. Sanusi also transferred to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in September 2015, which contributed to his departure.

Pinaula said Hakeem indicated he would resign but did not submit necessary documentation.

Multiple SGA members said the dismissal was amicable.

The SGA voted to appoint Eduardo Arango to Sanusi’s chair. SRJC students originally elected him as Director of Clubs in Petaluma, which is now vacant, SGA minutes state.

Former student representative and 2015 vice president of committee’s candidate, Alex Smith also bid for the finance chair.

Cheri McLean, who won reelection for the sustainability seat of the SGA in April, opted to peruse environmental opportunities in Portland, Oregon. Lucas Alvillar, Formerly the sustainability committee vice chair filled the post.

SGA advisor Zack Miranda said the bylaws outline clearer job descriptions for the student representatives and enumerates their responsibilities, because they are now paid through a public service fellowship program.

“A student can really jump into the SGA and get started right way and know what is expected of them,” Miranda said.