SGA continues secret deliberations, First Amendment in question

As SGA continues to shut students out of their decision-making and voting process, The Collegian attempted to give the organization a chance to answer to the students. Some responded. Many did not.

When asked how they felt about their unwritten policy, most SGA members refused comment. However, they insisted closing the meeting would allow them to make unbiased decisions.

The Student Press Law Center (SPLC) found that SGA seems to be violating First Amendment laws—more specifically, the Open Meetings Act.

“To be able to debate without hurting anyone’s feelings or feeling they are not ready to discuss things in the open—unfortunately, that just doesn’t work,” said SPLC Legal consultant Mike Hiestand. “When you’re talking about doling out thousands of dollars of public money, that just doesn’t apply.”

“The reason that they are offering (desire to not generate bad feelings) is completely ironic, in that open meeting laws are intended to make the government accountable for the effect of its decisions on the people, and SGA is basically attempting to circumvent such any popular consequences of the decisions by concealing them,” added SPLC legal fellow Adam Schulman.

Some members did express how they truly felt, but would not speak on the record because they did not want to “make any members mad” or, “the administration instructed us not to speak with The Collegian about the matter.”

A few of these anonymous members expressed frustration in their current position. They recognized the governing structure needs work, but felt they could not move forward at this time due to the apathy of the rest of the members.

“I came on board with good intentions,” said one member. “But I feel like my hands are tied.”
Senator Mekonnen Tibebu of Dunwoody SGA did not agree with their policy either, “but I am just going by the rules that were set before I was here.”

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