An opinion piece recently published in TechNews outlined somebody’s perspective on the recently introduced “Legislative Session” to senate hearings, and I felt it necessary to publicly answer some of their critiques and concerns. Know when I speak, I speak as a representative of the student body, concerned solely with the needs of Illinois Tech students. Though many know me as one who tends to stir the pot, I do not intend to here. I felt a fair representation of what Student Government Association (SGA) has been doing and intends to continue doing means all sides of this issue deserve to be heard.
Let’s face it. We are a country where political apathy runs rampant. Many Americans could not begin to tell you who their senators and representatives are on the national level, no less at a state and local level. That’s not to say every voter needs to be fluent on every action taken by an elected (or unelected) official, but they should at least make sure the people that represent them are generally representing their interests and needs.
While SGA has a highly motivated executive board, senate, judicial board, and financial board, meeting every two weeks to vote on a couple of new student organizations hardly constitutes true representation of the student body and its needs. On off weeks, committees met to discuss some ongoing projects, but with the exception of Events Committee, there were no real deadlines. I suppose you could make the argument we were very similar to the real government — nothing actually got done.
One of the unfortunate differences between the United States government and SGA is that SGA’s constitution and bylaws do not adequately stand the test of time or provide clear instruction. Anyone who has taken an even vague look at the SGA Constitution and Bylaws (available at https://sga.iit.edu) could tell you there are some serious inconsistencies, vague standards, and the lack of usage in many of its powers. What some refer to as house cleaning, others refer to as a complete remodel. Before just two months ago, the SGA senate essentially acted as a rubber stamp for anybody that wanted to start an organization.
I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but the senate hearings of last semester were relatively dull and lifeless, with, of course, the exception of premature and wasteful motions of impeachment. This semester, with the introduction of the legislative sessions, the senate meets and discusses not only what start-up ideas should become student organizations, but we take an introspective look and discuss how we can better serve the needs of the student body at Illinois Tech.
I feel as if there was some miscommunication in the previous op-ed. The senate has not dropped the responsibilities it had taken on in the previous semester. We still meet every other week to vote on new student organizations and we have dedicated extra time outside of Wednesday nights at 9:00 p.m. for committee meetings. We simply changed the schedule around and added a bit of an extra and much needed work load.
The senate had to do a gut check and in the words of Simon Sinek, “Start with why?” Why did we want to be senators? Why is SGA the governing institution of Illinois Tech? We joined the senate to represent the voices of the student body on a bigger stage. We joined the senate to improve the student body’s experience at Illinois Tech. It became apparent to anyone who paid attention that there were problems within SGA that needed to be resolved, and the introduction of the legislative session was made to solve internal problems, so that we can effectively solve external problems.
Finally, from my perspective, the introduction of the legislative session caused me to be totally invested and invigorated in the future of student government. I had always been motivated, but did not realize how many details caused us to be ineffective. While there are still some hiccups along the way, with procedural votes and what have you, the senate is moving in the right direction to improve its effectiveness in being the leading organization on campus. I encourage everyone to come to a senate meeting, or tune in via the Facebook livestream on Wednesday nights. It is sure to be more entertaining than your homework.