SGA members respond to Feb. 13 executive session

[HAMMOND] Some SGA representatives answered questions concerning the executive session improperly conducted on the Feb. 13 meeting.  During SIgma Alpha Xi’s grant proposal for the performance and guidance of classical saxophonist, Dr. Otis Murphy, the majority of the senate voted to have an executive session. Rachel Bourgeois, SGA Coordinator, declined an interview on the topic, but issued an statement.

”We follow Robert’s Rules of Order. The order for entering executive session is explained in Robert’s Rules of Order,” Bourgeois said.

When asked about the reason for the executive session, Mary Gervais, senate vice chairperson said, “It was called to further discuss a questionable bill.” Brandon Summers, SGA Appropriations Chairman and President-elect, said, “Last semester, that organization applied for an organizational grant. This time around you can see senate meetings move fast , so just to slow things down and make sure we’re on the same page we went into executive session to say, ‘Yes, they did get an organizational grant but they are applying for departmental grant now which is different ,so they can apply for both.'”

According to the RobertsRules.com, Robert’s Rules of Order are guidelines for parliamentary procedure commonly used by organizations and local governments alike. In Article VI of the SGA Bylaws it states,” Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, shall govern the SLU Student Government Association in all cases not covered by the Constitution, these Bylaws, or the Standing Rules of the Student Senate, the Executive Branch, and the Student Supreme Court.”

The SGA bylaws covers the two reasons for executive session in Article I, Session 3:

“The Student Senate or a Senate Committee may hold an executive session for one (1) or more of the following reasons:                                           

i. Discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of a person.

ii. Investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct.”

William Takewell also made a statement about the executive session. “Executive Sessions happen in the Senate (Legislative Branch) whenever there are things or topics that the senators need to get cleared up before entering into debate. No voting is supposed to occur in these executive sessions. Really, it is just an opportunity for the senators to get clarification. It is established in the standing rules of the SGA’s governing documents as a session that the meeting can go into. However, some people get confused and think that there is voting that goes on. If students wanted to have this changed, they could encourage their SGA members/senators to pass legislation that requires all discussion on anything to happen in open meeting with the public there.”

The senators voted to fund the grant after the meeting reopened to the public. The senate has proposed executive session three times since the Feb. 13 meeting, successfully voting to enter executive sessions one time. Summers did not respond to questions concerning the executive meeting called March 5 when the Senate approved entering executive session.

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