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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Proposed bill to change make-up of Senate seats in Student Government Association

Allison Campbell
Speaker of the Senate Kylee Hower and Government Oversight Chairperson Jay Thompson took to the podium on Nov. 15 to share a bill that would modify the make-up of Senate seats in SGA. If approved, the bill would eliminate at-large senator seats while raising the guaranteed number of college-based seats.

A new proposition to modify Senate seats within the Student Government Association (SGA) may eliminate at-large senator seats while raising the guaranteed number of college-based seats. 

Speaker of the Senate Kylee Hower and Government Oversight Chairperson Jay Thompson gave the first read of the Senate Seat Reapportionment Act during the Nov. 15 Student Senate meeting. The bill aims to stimulate more healthy competition and productivity within SGA through redistributing Senate seats. 

 If approved, the bill will require a constitutional amendment and a special election. 

Current Senate seat distribution

Currently, the Senate is comprised of 67 seats, with one being reserved for the student body vice president, two seats allotted for each of the seven Wichita State schools of study, and one seat guaranteed for each demographically designated group, such as underserved or graduate student senate positions.

An extra Senate seat can be awarded per every 1,000 additional students enrolled within the university. At-large senators, who represent the entire student body rather than one select group, are also allotted one seat per 1,000 enrolled students. 

“Our student government is very unique in the way that our representative body is composed on a population basis like that,” Thompson said. “A big reason why other schools don’t really do that is because of how inflated it can make the room.”

According to Thompson, university enrollment data predicts that there could be up to seven new seats — for a total of 73 seats — in SGA to serve the larger population next year. He said this increase raises concerns because of the amount of seat vacancies for the past several years. Only 42 out of 66 seats are filled this semester.

Many senators also run unopposed, and there are also openings available in several legislative roles.

“We appoint many individuals every fall to try and fill the room with voices, but with resignations, we still always fall short filling every seat,” Thompson said. “24 vacancies shows us that we have a demand problem.”

Proposed modifications

Following several conversations with Senate leadership and the advising staff, Hower and Thompson have suggested three separate sets of amendments be made to the SGA constitution, modifying Article II, Section 1 of the preamble.

Increase group, college seats

The first modification would raise each Senate group’s number of guaranteed seats from one seat to two seats. This would impact graduate, freshman, out-of-state, military and veteran, international, adult learner, and underserved senators. 

It would also increase the number of guaranteed seats for college representatives from two seats to three seats.

Adjust population line

The next change would make adjustments to the number of enrolled students required for an additional Senate seat within a group from every 1,000 new enrollments to 2,000 or higher.

Vice President Sophie Martins expressed concern regarding the population clause, stating that this modification would only be a temporary solution.

“To me, continuing to have a clause about population does not actually fix the problem at hand but continues it,” Martins said.

Thompson said that the population clause maintains an accurate distribution of individuals on campus and that those involved in the bills were “fundamentally against” capping Senate seats or restricting increases based on population.

Remove at-large seats

To balance the new, additional college and demographic-based seats, the resolution plans to remove the line of the SGA constitution that permits at-large senator seats. 

Hower said at-large seats are “kind of useless” as a demographic because every student can fit into a different seat.

  “We believe that by removing at-large (seats), it will force senators applying to fit themselves into an alternate category,” Hower said.

Hower and Thompson hope that eliminating at-large senator seats while increasing college and demographic seats will increase competition in SGA.

“We feel that Senate elections should be more competitive to help drive demand and desire to serve in this body,” Hower said. 

Special election required

For the changes to go into effect, the bill would need to be voted on and approved before winter break. If the Senate approves it, modifications to the constitution also require a majority vote by students in a special election.

If the bill were to pass, it would go into effect at the beginning of the next session in late spring, meaning that current senators would not be affected. The estimated number of seats, according to enrollment projections, would be around 50 Senate seats.

Thompson and Hower also stated the bill can be amended and re-proposed if needed to meet the changing needs of the student body.

After undergoing a committee vote, the bill will be put to a vote in the Senate on Nov. 29. Students, faculty, staff and community members are welcome to attend the session or view it live from SGA’s YouTube

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About the Contributor
Allison Campbell
Allison Campbell, News Editor
Allison Campbell is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in writing or editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.

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