Let me tell you, it is good to be back.
My name is Grey Mangan, and I’m excited to be writing for the Daily Beacon once more. My column has encapsulated a lot of different themes in its lifetime, but in this iteration, I’m looking to talk openly and frankly about what’s going on around campus and the Knoxville area as well.
I am particularly interested in university happenings, especially diving into large-scale issues like student programming funding and the interactions between state legislature and university admin, as well as smaller issues like student government going-ons (read: drama, typically fruitless but important to know about).
I’m excited to be working with the Beacon again, and excited to engage with you again, readers! As always, we put our emails at the bottom of the article for a reason, and so I invite you to respond to articles or just say hello anytime by emailing me there!
But there’s no reason to fill you with fluff for the first article back — we’ve got far too much to do for that.
Let’s break down what’s going on in the Student Government Association.
If you’re an average student with things to do on your Tuesday nights, then you probably have no idea about what’s going on in SGA right now. It’s okay though, reader! I wouldn’t blame you for not knowing, seeing as how the Senate proceedings aren’t recorded and the legislation archive is questionably laid out at best and inaccurate at worst.
Here’s the thick and thin of it: SGA is about to move into the election season by bringing the election packet (a list of rules on how to campaign) before the Senate for ratification, but prior to a heated Senate session, Election Commissioner Nicole Painter pulled the packet. Commissioner Painter stated, in an email to Senators, that the packet was pulled after “issues regarding political organizations’ attempts to intervene in student government elections.” She went on to say that there is “no set date as to when I will present the packet.”
Now I hear you, you might be saying to yourself, “Dude, it’s the beginning of February. Take a chill pill.” And in most situations I would agree with you! It seems wrong for this to be a concerning matter. But here’s how it breaks down, and why it’s concerning:
The new election packet is coming with some serious changes (which, to be entirely fair, were needed as the packet hadn’t been restructured in a long while), but the changes present in the pulled draft were steep, and many were seemingly unconstitutional.
The packet eliminated the Student Services Director from being an elected position, which is a truly horrible decision as the SSD has the most ‘boots on the ground’ responsibility in SGA, running logistics for several committees all putting on events on campus at once. This would also make an entire branch of SGA appointed, since that was the solution for ridding the democratic process from this crucial role.
Instead they wished to replace this with, and wait for it now, Executive Treasurer. That’s right folks, treasurer. Currently, SGA manages a relatively small budget that has been well managed by appointed treasurers in the past, so I see no reason to change something so drastically, especially because the constitution of SGA does not support this change as-is and would require a constitutional amendment.
And to add to that, senators appeared totally blindsided by this move during the session last Tuesday which was topped off by Senator Flomberg and Senator Salameh letting their frustrations be known with Commissioner Painter after she refused to comment on the packet.
Beyond all of this, the Election Commission doesn’t know when they’ll have the updated packet ready. Based on the lackluster record-keeping of UT’s SGA, the move to present and then pull the draft packet is unprecedented. To make matters worse, the Senate shows no sign of calling an emergency session — which means they will continue to meet biweekly pending a packet that requires two consecutive votes to pass.
Meaning best case scenario, the rules for elections are in place and finalized Feb. 25, cutting into their proposed schedule of proceedings for the elections and potentially changing the outcome of these impending elections.
I don’t know what to say except, you really can’t make this stuff up. Hopefully I’ll have something a little more coherent for y’all next time, but we’ll see if SGA will afford me that opportunity. Until next time!
Grey Mangan is dipping, ducking and dodging the flu and is a junior in cinema studies. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.