Ambitious election promises and a worldwide pandemic have made this year unusually difficult for UMKC’s Student Government Association (SGA).
SGA’s bimonthly meetings have been transferred online due to the coronavirus, making it more difficult to discuss and pass new legislation.
SGA President Brandon Henderson explained how the virtual setting has created challenges, including in their early October meeting.
“We actually lost some folks on the Zoom call,” explained Henderson. “When those folks left, we basically had to shut off the meeting.”
The meeting was primarily about the implementation of the new proposed constitution, but progress was slowed by technical difficulties. The constitution was eventually passed two weeks later than expected.
The new constitution proposal, also known as SR-1, retains the majority of the previous constitution. The proposal’s goal involved clearing up language to ease understanding for both students and student senators. Additionally, the proposal created a clearer division of labor within the student government.
“The primary purpose of these changes was to create a better separation of powers and improve the balances between those, and restructuring how the processes worked,” said Trenton Garza, chair for the SGA Internal Affairs Committee.
The new language in the constitution clarifies the roles for members of the SGA and the Executive Council. Implementing these changes is part of the new administration’s efforts to be more transparent for students, which was a primary platform of Henderson’s Roos for Reform campaign.
Many other student senators have also expressed the same goal in the hopes that students will be able to better understand the role SGA plays in their college journey.
“Our other goals include reforming the student senate to ensure it’s more accessible to the student body, increasing engagement of the student body with SGA,” Henderson said.
SGA has also taken additional steps to be more transparent for students by posting bills, like the newly revised constitution, to its official RooGroups page. The SGA has also been more transparent and vocal about the body’s views, even as they extend outside of UMKC governance. Caroline Moriarty, the SGA’s speaker of the senate, cited the example of the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and how the student government felt it was necessary to put out a statement.
“SGA definitely felt like they had to act and had to say something to bring our voice into the conversation,” Moriarty said. “So, over the summer we released a statement supporting Black Lives Matter.”
The new SGA body has made it clear that, in all avenues, its primary objective is to continue fostering openness between students and the SGA moving forward.
“This year, SGA is working on becoming accessible to students, more transparent in their processes and more inclusive of associations in UMKC,” said Moriarty.