SGA Judicial Board now operates as organization arbitrator

By: 
Ethan Castro
Date: 
Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Thus far, coverage of the Illinois Institute of Technology Student Government Association (SGA) has focused on the four main committees of the Senate - Academic Affairs, Communications, Events, and Student Life. As prior articles have exemplified, these four committees serve the needs of the student body by creating projects and assigning senators to carry them out. However, the Senate is only one third of the Student Government Association body. Somewhat less visible than the individual senators, SGA’s Finance Board and Judicial Board are both still equally vital parts of the association’s operations. Specifically, Judicial Board stands as an intermediary for any potential issues that may arise both between student organizations and Finance Board in terms of funding allocations and between the general student body and SGA as a whole. In addition, the last SGA Senate hearing this past Wednesday affirmed a new amendment to the SGA constitution that will allow Judicial Board, with proper permission, to act as an arbitrator passing final judgment on conflicts within an individual organization.

Working with Finance Board is a vital aspect of any student organization’s operations. However, all student organizations have the full right to dispute the allocation decisions made by Finance Board, and Judicial Board functions as a facilitator for these disputes. According to SGA Chief Justice San Dinh, processing appeals of this nature constitutes “90 percent of our job. After a Student Activity Fund allocation, student organizations have one week to submit their appeals to Judicial Board if they are not satisfied with Finance Board’s decision.” From here, Judicial Board scrutinizes the source of the student organization’s appeal and makes a final decision based on the allocation’s compliance with Finance Board guidelines. It should be noted that, as is defined in the SGA constitution and bylaws, Finance Board must comply with whatever decision Judicial Board passes, including completely reversing a given allocation or lack thereof.

In a similar manner, Judicial Board also processes appeals made by the general student body against the actions of SGA. Chief Justice Dinh explains the process as “when the student body disagrees with a decision made by SGA, they can simply submit a petition to Judicial Board.” Once again, Judicial Board will weigh the students’ concern with the existing SGA constitution and bylaws and then dispense a final ruling. Whether it be the approval of a new student organization or the nature of a certain event, all SGA proceedings are liable for petitions to Judicial Board, if plausible reason can be shown for concern.

Finally, the newest amendment to the SGA constitution strengthens the position of Judicial Board by allowing it to serve as an intermediary for issues that may arise within the internal affairs of a singular student organization. One important caveat of this newfound power is that it applies “if, and only if, both sides of the conflicted organization agree to let Judicial Board make the final order” as was clearly stated by Chief Justice Dinh. By no means is SGA seeking to impede upon the autonomy of student organizations. Instead, SGA is merely looking to serve as a neutral and civil option in resolving any issues that may arise within a student organization. By no means are internal student affairs required to go through SGA in the process of their resolution, but the option is now there for those who wish to utilize it.

Student Government Association looks to improve the quality of campus life for all students of the university. However, the very nature of this grand endeavor means that conflicts may emerge. Thus, Judicial Board exists as a nonpartisan entity meant to neutrally and peacefully resolve these issues, whenever they should emerge. All students have a right to make themselves heard and to make their concerns rightfully addressed. To facilitate this standard, students should be aware that appeals to Judicial Board can made through Hawklink, in addition to being sent over email to sgajboard@iit.edu.