SGA members break down how the association operates

Members+of+the+SGA+Senate+clap+before+the+adjournment+of+the+Aug.+31+meeting.

Mia Hennen / The Sunflower

Members of the SGA Senate clap before the adjournment of the Aug. 31 meeting.

Many students may be unfamiliar with the Student Government Association that resides on their campus and even more students might be unaware of how the group functions.

SGA mirrors America’s government system, meaning it has three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. 

According to SGA’s Speaker of the Senate and At-Large Senator John Kirk, the Judicial branch oversees SGA and holds the Legislative and Executive branches accountable. The Legislative and Executive branches also work closely with each other.

“The Executive is more of the executing branch. They’re kind of the ones that make things happen,” Kirk said. “The Legislative is more so the voice of the people, we make sure that what is trying to be done is actually what the students want.” 

According to Kirk, there are 63 seats in the student Senate, and they make up all of the organizations and student demographics, not just the colleges. The number of seats in the Senate is dependent on the population of the university.

“There are college (senators), but you have under-served senators, out-of-state, international, graduate, returning adult, military – just different demographics that are here on campus,” Kirk said. 

Kirk said that student senators have the power to veto bills that the Executive Branch puts on the floor, where members sit and make speeches, of SGA. The SGA president – Mitchell Adamson currently serves as the president –  has the power to veto bills that student senators want to pass. Senators have the power to overturn a veto with a two-thirds vote.

“(As Speaker of the Senate,) I facilitate the meetings to make sure every senator’s voice is heard,” Kirk said. “I make sure we keep going, that we’re not bickering, we’re doing stuff that should be done.”

The vice president of SGA oversees the student senators and breaks votes that are tied in SGA. 

Kirk said he is working on SGA being more transparent with the student body at Wichita State.

“Every year, we hear the word ‘transparency’ being thrown around, but what does that actually look like? . . . Really making those connections with students as senators,” Gregory VanDyke Jr., Speaker Pro-Tempore & Underserved Senator said. “We plan on working with student organizations. We’re meeting with deans of colleges and really finding different areas that we weren’t meeting.”

VanDyke said that SGA finds power in the small connections that they make with the student body, like when they table at campus events. 

“It’s those things that we can engage students in and let them know that we’re here for them,” VanDyke said. “We put together a Freshman Leadership Council under the Executive Branch to get more freshmen involved.”

Kirk said that it bothered him that many do not know what Student Government Association is. 

“It didn’t make me mad at the students; it made me mad at the Student Government,” Kirk said. “We are going to put out a video to give an update to all of the students on what’s going on, what’s going to happen, and sharing the information that you have the right to come in and speak in public forum.”

Kirk said  that these videos will be put out once a month. 

“It seems like students feel like there’s this hierarchy that ‘SGA is more important and we’re like gods,’” Kirk said. “I want to knock that barrier down and completely open up the meetings. All of our meetings are live streamed, but I want them to know that they have the right, they have the ability to come in.”

Public forums are hosted every Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the beginning of the Senate meetings. In order to speak at a public forum, you must submit a form to the SGA Speaker with who you are and what you want to speak about at the forum. 

At a public forum, students have five minutes to speak about their issue. 

Kirk and VanDyke said that they want students to know that SGA is there for them.

“We are not the typical organization,” VanDyke said. “We’re here to address student concerns … and letting them know that they always have a place at the table, even if they can’t physically sit there, they have people that are designed and chosen to represent them.”