Inside the SGA

The Youngstown State University Student Government Association began its legislative assembly meeting on Monday with a few opening remarks by President Elyse Gessler, who thanked Adam Earnheardt, an associate professor of communication, for his participation in the “Last Lecture” series.

Organizing the lecture series is only one of the SGA’s many duties; its main function is disbursing funds to various student groups.

Among those student groups listed on Monday’s agenda were the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, who requested funding for one member to attend the Association for Behavior Analysis International’s convention; the Student African American Sisterhood, who requested funding to cover food costs at the Miss Curvaceous Pageant; and the Delta Zeta sorority, who requested funding for T-shirts for their 5K run.

Five other groups also requested and received funds.

Cory Okular, the vice president for financial affairs, announced that these disbursements would wipe out the SGA’s remaining $1,150.

Gessler reaffirmed, however, that SGA would “try and get a piece” of any increase in YSU’s tuition.

She added that besides doling out funds for student organizations, the SGA is working on a first-year experience program. Additionally, the SGA organizes various campus events, including the Penguin Pre-Party and guest speakers.

The SGA’s body includes an executive committee, which consists of the president and the executive vice president, the vice presidents of the SGA’s various committees, the chief of staff, the secretary of technology and the parliamentarian, according to the SGA’s website.

The SGA’s committees are university affairs, financial appropriations, academic affairs and student life.

“It starts with the vice president, then under them is the committee chair [and] under them is 11 to 12 committee members, who focus on certain issues,” Gessler said.

Committees and the legislative assembly meet on alternating Mondays.

“When we’re not in committee, the legislative assembly votes on bills like financial appropriations or other issues that need to be addressed,” Gessler said.

For instance, the SGA’s legislative assembly voted on last year’s letter to YSU administrators concerning the campus smoking policy before it was sent.

The legislative assembly is made up of different elected representatives “from each college, including graduate school,” said Travis Battiest, vice president for university affairs.

Gessler added that the number of representatives elected depends on the size of the college. The Bitonte College of Health and Human Services, for example, is represented by anywhere from 11 to 14, she said.

In addition to overseeing the legislative assembly, members of the executive committee “sit on the strategic planning committee with staff, faculty and administration,” Gessler said.

Gessler said the SGA can’t bring about change very quickly, but insisted that the organization has a much stronger voice in university affairs than most other state universities’ student governments.

“We do have a lot of power in that our university affairs responds to our student government,” she said. “They listen to us, and a lot of the changes that have happened are because we started them.”