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Student government officials reflect on semester, hope for future

Assistant News Editor

Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 22:12

SGA

Brynn Castro | The Houstonian

SGA members debate legislation. SGA hopes for a productive spring semester in 2014.

After a rocky start to Student Government Association’s fall 2013 semester, with rampant internal drama and miscommunication, some SGA members are hopeful for the upcoming semester.

The SGA Senate passed 25 pieces of legislation this semester, mostly being commemorative bills or internal resolutions. However, some officials said the drudge of domestic dealings is essential for a better SGA in the future.

“I believe it is important to pass so much internal legislation because of the situation we are in as an organization,” University Affairs Chief Spencer Copeland said. “Our numbers are growing. We will have about half a full Senate in the early weeks of the spring semester. We need to make sure that the current members of SGA leave behind a concise, clear and consistent Constitution and framework for future senates. Because we are growing there has been a lot of confusion of who has what power. Our current rules have left a lot of us in a grey area. That needs to be fixed.”

Although the Senate doesn’t have much power by the way of legislation, other departments within SGA are actively promoting the welfare of the student body in a behind-the-scenes style of work. Sen. Robert Ferguson (COS) began a disability awareness initiative in 2012 that involved investigating the state of the university’s compliance with the Texas Accessibility Standards. Since this sort of investigation deals with the university, it fell under Copeland’s jurisdiction.

“It is meant to bring awareness,” Copeland said. “We don't always see the problems of others. Unless someone speaks up most problems that students face will never be heard by the administration. It's not an issue of the administration not caring or not willing to change. The problem is they just don't know what problems we have.”

SGA has been hoping since Spring 2013 to create a department solely for student inquiries. The intent of the Inquiry Action Committee is to serve students by directing or advocating for them to the proper university official.

“It’s going to be a great program,” Student Affairs Chief Alex Rangel said. “It’s going to facilitate interaction with students, particularly students who want to reach out and make contact with us.”

Rangel spearheaded an LGBT initiative this semester with legislation voicing concern over the mistreatment of LGBT individuals across the nation and hopes to continue his work throughout the rest of the school year, bringing the progress closer to home.

“I’ve been doing research into the structure of homecoming at other campuses and how other campuses tackle the problem of gender restrictions in homecoming ballots,” Rangel said. “We’re looking at a possible solution to that by maybe opening it up and being less restrictive and heteronormative. Who knows? Next year, we might have a male homecoming queen, which I think would be awesome.”

Rangel will also be concluding an investigation highlighting the lack of streamlined internship rules and regulations at Sam Houston State University.

On Nov. 5, student government reformed its freshman initiation program by creating the council, a board on which students with less than 12 SHSU hours sit until they can become senators.

Council member Hop Luu said that once he’s sworn in as a senator in January, he hopes to start making a difference.

“I wanted to see how I can make a change and improve the school,” Luu said. “I intend to look into the details about how the school works and how we can improve it. From what I know, SGA mostly focuses on our [own] problems when we should be focusing on the school itself.”

SGA will convene again in January.

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