Student Government debates combining rules into one document

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Braydon Jones, Student Government assembly speaker, talks at an SG meeting on Tuesday about a bill combining SG’s bylaws and internal rules into one document, the Code of Rules and Procedures.

Photo Credit: Chris Foxx | Daily Texan Staff

After over two hours of discussion and debate at a meeting Tuesday, Student Government did not approve a bill combining its bylaws and internal rules into one document.

The SG Rules and Regulations Committee had been reviewing the new governing document since September. After SG assembly members debated on the inclusion of the organization’s agencies in the committee’s revision process, the bill was sent back to the Rules and Regulation Committee for further review.

The document, known as the Code of Rules and Procedures, details the daily operations and bylaws of SG and complements a more general constitution, which was revised in the spring.

The code was previously under review for contradictions between the Office of the Dean of Students and SG policy after controversy arose in the organization during the spring over the release of interview notes for its external and internal positions. The Office of the Vice President of Legal Affairs ruled in August that releasing interview notes for the appointments would be a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. SG has not since addressed the handling of interview notes.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the main area of concern was a point in the doctrine requiring agencies to go through a review process by representatives from the agency, the SG assembly and executive members every two years. Agency directors attended the meeting and said they were not made aware of this new policy until last week and did not receive notification about Sunday’s final Rules and Regulations Committee meeting.

“Whatever email that was sent out on did not include agency directors, so I’m free on Sundays,” SG Diversity Committee director Amber McGee said. “I don’t do much. I would have loved to attend your meeting, and I definitely understand the procedures for voicing this, but was not given access to that information.” 

Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative, said the review process had been open for months. Melysa Barth, Rules and Regulations Committee chair, added that her committee had been looking at alterations submitted at committee meetings and through email for two months.

“We really did try to make sure that we did our due diligence,” Barth said. “I know that there is a communication issue that is arising, and I apologize for that. However, I do not think it is something that should keep our rules from being passed. It shouldn’t hinder the process.”

Olivia Arena, SG City Relations co-director, said a review process that includes assembly members is not fair since most assembly members do not know about an agency’s day-to-day operations. “When assembly members are looking to review an agency or are looking to determine whether or not they are functioning or whether or not they are appropriate or whether or not they should be approved and continue to function in that way, they need to have involvement prior,” Arena said. “And, ultimately, I don’t see that involvement between the assembly and agencies.”

SG assembly speaker Braydon Jones said agency heads still have the ability to run their agency and alter their role as dictated in the document.

“No one in this assembly is trying to tell you how to do your agency, but, in reality, the assembly has to be able to control two things,” Jones said. “One, we need to confirm due appointments the student body president makes, like we did in the spring. And secondly, we need to determine whether or not an agency should function.”

SG President Kori Rady said he thought the resolution was incomplete and should be reviewed in an ad hoc committee, a suggestion that did not take.

“There are a lot of holes in this large piece of legislation, and this is the largest change to Student Government in half a decade,” Rady said. “This is not something that should take three months. It should take six months to a year. Yes, they have put in great work, and many representatives have given their opinions; but, as you can see here, there are opinions that haven’t been incorporated into the piece of legislation.”