Controversial SGA bill vetoed

By Brittney Jackson | The Duquesne Duke

A bill that would require students running for executive positions in the Student Government Association to have at least a semester of experience as a senator was thrown out Oct. 26, a week after it was enacted.

The original by-law that does not mandate candidates to have senatorial experience will remain in effect.

SGA President Peter Samson said he vetoed the bill because it limited the pool of applicants.

“Such a change like extending a requirement to run for [president] shouldn’t be implemented in the middle of a semester,” Samson said. “It should be applied in the beginning of a future semester or election period when everyone knows the requirement is coming.”

Samson said the proposal for changing the election code came from the Special Projects Committee. The committee was responsible for overhauling SGA’s by-laws and election code.

The proposed by-law passed with a majority Senate vote on Oct. 19 and was enacted immediately. According to the SGA constitution, a president has 10 days to veto legislation.

Samson said the bill was debated extensively. He said the benefits of the proposal were to ensure someone in an executive position was familiar with SGA, had experience voting and served on committees.

SGA Senator Michael Rand, chairman for revisions and special projects, said he supported the bill.

“It would have ensured that we have some minimum level of experience at the highest level of the organization,” Rand said. “This would consequently ensure that we have student leaders that have experience in the democratic process, as well as increase the probability that such leaders have prior experience managing people, such as on standing committees and Ad-hoc committees.”

Rand said another benefit of the proposed change would be that students in executive positions would have demonstrated “consistent dedication” to SGA.

SGA President Pro-Tempore Tyler Wilson said an experience requirement would have been highly beneficial because it assures the candidate would have “a sense of understanding toward the organization.”

“Being a good speaker and leader is one thing, but knowing how to speak and lead on behalf of a governing body is a completely different challenge of its own,” Wilson said.

Samson said he vetoed the proposal because students that lacked senatorial experience, but intended to run in upcoming elections, would be excluded from executive positions.

The bill also stated that the semester a student joined SGA would not be considered a semester of experience. Even if the student joined SGA within the first few weeks of the school year, the student would need an additional semester to be eligible for an executive position.