SGA approves the creation of the Diversity, Inclusion and Equity committee, amends election statutes

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In student senate on Thursday, Student Governing Association authorized the creation of a committee that combines the goals of the Special Committee on Membership with the mandates of the Student Engagement Committee.

The Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Committee, which will take the place of the SEC, was presented by Lily Colburn, chair of the SCM and freshman in political science, and Vedant Kulkarni, chair of the SEC and sophomore in business administration. The new committee is one of the many projects to come out of the SCM this year.

After four years of the sitting speaker of the student senate directing the creation of the SCM with term-specific directives, the committee felt there was a lot of overlap in what the SCM was wanting to accomplish — “address ‘ongoing, systemic issues dealing with disproportionate Student Government membership'” — with what the SEC was designed to do initially — market SGA to the student body.

In previous student senate meetings, Colburn and Kulkarni said the committee is modeled after similar committees in other student government’s in the Kansas Board of Regents.

“This isn’t like totally new water, like it’s new water for us, but it’s been well-treaded by other schools,” said Mat Orzechowski, student senator and senior in industrial engineering.

Specifically, the committee shall “evaluate existing … policies and programs designed to further increase participation from the student body” in SGA as well as further build on those policies that already exist.

“We can have an intentional, year-round focus on that information rather than just treating it like a blip,” Colburn said. “When we combine these two things so we can better use everyone’s time and also better serve SGA and better serve the student body in reviewing our internal practices while also trying to engage and work with students.”

The bill passed 48-0.

With the creation of this committee, a subsequent amendment adjusted the responsibilities of the speaker pro tempore. As is legislated currently, the speaker pro tempore is supposed to complete a survey that collects the demographic data of the sitting student senate. That survey was not completed in the previous term and has yet to be released for this term, which expires at the conclusion of the student senate meeting on March 28.

Going forward, that survey will be completed by the new standing committee and will be stretched to include the demographic data of all SGA members (i.e. legislative, executive and judicial.)

After debate over the proposed three percent increase to the K-State Student Union Operations budget by the Privilege Fee Committee, the recommendation ultimately passed.

Jonathan Cole, student senator and senior in mechanical engineering, debated against the increase, citing what he found to be “frivolous” spending. Cole said he also doubted the proper amount of time had been spent reviewing the massive budget of the Union.

Other student senators debated in the negative or the positive, like Madison Brown, privilege fee vice chair and sophomore in business administration, who voted against referring the bill favorably. Corey Williamson, executive director of the Union, also elaborated on what the increase to the budget would be spent on.

The bill passed 39-8.

Additionally, student senate proposed an amendment to the election statutes in order to deal specifically with disqualification of student body presidential candidates in the general election. This amendment, modeled after a situation from the election of the 2019-2020 student body president, would dictate that in such a case, the next highest vote receiver from the primary will be added to the general election ballot.

Student senate also introduced legislation aimed at terminating the pre-existing Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee in the interest of creating a joint committee with the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs called the Intercultural Leadership Council.

Jordan Kiehl, student body president and senior in industrial engineering, said the new committee is meant to “revamp” the old model with combined university and SGA interest.

These proposed pieces of legislation will be voted on in the final student senate meeting of the term on March 28. In the Wildcat Chamber before student senate, the Governmental Relations Committee for SGA will be hosting a town hall at 7 p.m. about safe and affordable housing in Manhattan with a handful of city commissioners.

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Kaylie Mclaughlin
My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm one of the Co-Editors-in-Chief. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, KS. I’m a sophomore in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. In the past, I’ve focused primarily on multimedia journalism, but I’ve always been passionate about storytelling. I am fueled by a lot of coffee and I spend my (sparse) free time watching stand-up comedy and reading news magazines.