SGA Senator resigns, replaced by former candidate

OSEPH PIERCE WAS SWORN IN Tuesday to replace former SGA Senator James Leggett. Courtney Klaus, Staff Writer

Adult, Graduate, and Nontraditional Senator Representative James Leggett resigned from his position on the Student Government Association on Sept. 24. His replacement, Joseph Pierce, was sworn in on Tuesday.

“We are sad to see him go” Vice President Marisa Zayat said.

Leggett was the only nontraditional student to run for office during elections. Pierce was the student who earned the most votes of the candidates who were not elected into a senator position last semester. He is a senior chemistry and  biology major.

Leggett said he had been weighing the decision to resign since the beginning of the semester. As a full-time respiratory therapy student, a part-time graphic designer, the president of an honor society, and a father and husband, Leggett said he did not feel he had enough time to give SGA his full attention. 

During his last SGA meeting as a senator, Leggett proposed Bill 1803, which called for the funding of an ice cream social event scheduled for Monday Sept. 25. It was to be organized by the National Society of Leadership and Success with the involvement of SGA and the Campus Activities Board. 

Leggett said the purpose of the bill was to “bring campus organizations together and to allow students to feel more connected with SGA.” 

After some debate over the role of CAB, the bill was tabled and put to an online vote. It was approved on Friday, Sept. 22, just three days before the event was scheduled. Leggett did not feel the timeframe was sufficient to coordinate such a huge event.

 Leggett said he found himself stuck because the specific wording of the bill would not allow him to push back the date. He said that he did not realize the complications that would arise from the wording of his bill. No amendment that would have allowed him to change the date was suggested during the meeting, he said.

Zayat said the lack of an amendment is likely because of the inexperience of the new senators.

“We are working with a fairly new senate body… It comes with some drawbacks and some benefits. One of the drawbacks is they might not know everything that has to deal with how the meetings are run or how to make changes to bills” Zayat said, “One good thing about it though is that it brings new ideas and voices to be heard.”

After the miscommunication and confusion within the senate over the online passage of Bill 1803, the President and Vice President said SGA hopes to improve their efficiency and communication for the future. 

Zayat said online votes will not be held if there is any tension evident within the senate over the bill.

“We shouldn’t hold online votes for bills that we feel might need to be discussed… When it deals with money or it seems a little controversial based on a little bit of discussion that we heard, then we are going to be careful about online bills,” she said.

Leggett suggested one way to improve the efficiency of passing bills is to add meeting time.

“Right now we are making a six hour difference out of 2,688 hours in the semester… I feel that 45 minutes every two weeks isn’t sufficient to meet the needs of the student body we have,” he said

Since Leggett’s resignation, Zayat said the SGA executive board has added more meeting time to their schedule.

“We are moving executive board meetings to once weekly instead of doing it biweekly,” she said. “That way we have more time to discuss and we can be better prepared for meetings and discuss—Not only committee meetings—but we can also discuss the actual SGA meetings and planning the agenda.”

To improve communication, SGA President Vivian Hoang said she wants to create assigned seats that change with every meeting.

“We have gotten name plaques… I always thought it would be a good idea just to mix up the seating. People tend to always want to sit by their friends and I think… being able to randomly place them, they will be able to keep that better dialogue,” she said.

Although Leggett said his decision to resign was not ultimately due to the confusion regarding his bill, he said it made the decision easier.

“The circumstances surrounding Bill 1803 helped me realize that I don’t have to be a voting member within SGA to be a student leader on campus,” he said.

Leggett said he’s going to continue to be a student leader in other ways, namely by continuing to lead the NSLS Honor Society.

This story first appeared in the October 5, 2017 issue of The Vantage.