Home / Fall 2015 / SGA calls executive session, comes under fire for lack of transparency

SGA calls executive session, comes under fire for lack of transparency

Photo Illustration: Kayla Stroud/THE SPECTATOR

Written by Kyle Dawson, Staff Writer

After conducting business publicly for only about five minutes on Monday, Student Government Association went into an hour-long closed-door session for the remainder of its weekly meeting.

Senator Joel Pollack made a motion to go into an executive session, and it passed by a majority vote. Anyone not in SGA was then asked to leave meeting room one in the Student Union.

Pollack declined to comment on the reason for calling the executive session.

“I do not need to give a reason,” Pollack said. “(Robert’s Rules) does not require me to do so in the event of an interview.”

Under the state of Georgia’s Sunshine Laws, SGA is legally required to give a reason for calling an executive session.

According to Robert’s Rules of Order, which recognizes Georgia’s Sunshine Laws and is the system SGA uses for governing their meetings, an executive session can be motioned by any member, and it must be seconded by another member. Then a majority vote is needed to send the meeting into an executive session.

When a meeting enters an executive session, only the executive board, senators, coat of arms and former cabinet members are allowed to stay in the room for the following discussion until the session ends.

No voting can take place in an executive session because all votes must be done in the public eye.

However, after an executive session is closed, an affidavit must be released that states the reasoning behind the executive meeting. Also, the reason must be listed in the minutes.

As of Wednesday evening, SGA has not provided any minutes or an affidavit.

Senator Joshua Rivers said that the matters were to be kept confidential.

“The session was called to address some private issues within the senate and within the organization as a whole,” Rivers said.

Executive sessions are usually kept private in order to keep a member protected when talking about sensitive matters.

These matters could range from financial questions to discipline within the organization.

SGA adviser Niki Turley, an associate dean of students directed inquires about the nature of the executive session back to SGA board members. Turley said Tuesday that she was unaware if minutes had been released.

The gallery was frustrated after being told to leave the meeting. There were about 10 students who had come to the meeting in order to see what SGA was doing and to bring up some concerns of their own. Instead, they were forced to wait outside of the meeting for over an hour, and they were never allowed back in.

Senior business student Taylor Pound said that because the student body elected the members of SGA, students should be allowed to know what is discussed in the meetings.

“Not disclosing what was said after the meeting makes it seem as if they are hiding information or want to escape from some form of scrutiny based on what was discussed,” Pound said.

Some of the topics on the agenda for the meeting were a textbook exchange, midnight breakfast during finals week and a fundraiser at The Mill. However, SGA Vice President Colleen Kavanaugh said that the agenda was essentially abandoned after the executive session was called.

During the first five minutes of the meeting, which were open to everyone, two new senators were introduced to fill vacant spots including sophomore health administration major Devin Spencer and senior biology major Matthew Cowan.

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