Letter to the Editor: SGA Reform Is Coming — And It’s Long Overdue

SGA Senate Chambers | Elise Gregg, PantherNOW

Alexander Sutton, Student Body President-elect | Guest Writer

Changes are coming to the SGA Constitution and Statutes. My first action as Student Body President will be to call a Constitutional Convention, through an Executive Order I will be signing within the first week of my Presidential term, which starts at noon on May 3. This year, SGA will finally get some long-overdue reform.

My primary focus is on tangible issues that affect the student body, such as improving academic advising and expanding SGA-sponsored services and amenities, as well as fighting for diversity and inclusion. In addition, a series of crucial Constitutional amendments are incoming, with the purpose of strengthening student rights and restoring checks and balances. Here’s why these changes are needed.

Student Government’s current statutes. | Provided by Alexander Sutton, SGA

The current SGA Constitution was written in 2020 in a closed-door process that excluded input from the student body and the Student Senate. In the midst of the pandemic, almost no students were engaged or paying attention, which presented the perfect opportunity to implement a change that had already been previously voted down by the student body multiple times: the merger of the independent BBC and MMC Student Governments.

Though the merger was arguably necessary, it was done completely undemocratically. The Constitution and Statutes were rewritten privately by only two or three students, and the first day that the Senate saw the new Constitution was on February 1st, 2021, after it had already been put into effect by the administration earlier that day, without a vote by the Senate or student body. 

SGA’s current Constitution. | Provided by Alexander Sutton, SGA

Unfortunately, the merger was far from the only change that was made. The Senate and the Supreme Court were made far less powerful, giving the power to the President instead. This has led to an extreme lack of checks and balances.

The Senate has lost the power to exercise oversight, hold SGA members accountable, and determine its own committees’ names and functions. In addition, its role in the budget process has been significantly weakened. The Judicial Branch has the power to remove SGA members, but only with the agreement of the Attorney General, which is appointed by the President and can’t be removed through any process. In practice, this has meant that no one is held accountable, such as during the 2021-2022 year, when there was no Attorney General at all.

SGA MMC statutes prior to changes made in 2021. | Provided by Alexander Sutton, SGA

Even if the Judicial Branch does remove an official, the Executive Board can immediately overturn the decision. And these issues only scratch the surface — there are too many flaws to list.

I was elected on a platform of “Inclusivity, Reform, and Panther Pride.” This is the reform part of my platform. And reform has never been more necessary. I am attaching copies of the previous and current Constitution and Statutes to this letter so that all can freely access them. Fixing all these issues in one year is a daunting task, but it is my duty to get it done. If you are interested in joining me on this mission as a member of the Constitutional Convention, email me at asutt017@fiu.edu.

SGA’s constitution before changes made in 2021. | Provided by Alexander Sutton, SGA

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