With only three weeks of classes left in the fall semester, the Student Governance Council has passed only one bill.
This lack of activity is unlike the SGC, which in previous semesters passed several bills: The Student Government Association passed nine bills last year and eight bills the year before during the fall semesters.
Having just one bill so far this semester — one that changed the SGC’s name and arguably had no impact on the student body — reflects a significant drop in productivity for a group whose purpose is to represent the needs of the student body, primarily through legislation. And what is more alarming is the absence of a sense of urgency among SGC senators.
To explain its slowness to introduce legislation, the SGC cited the large number of new senators who were still acclimating to the environment. However, taking the first half of the semester — a total of six meetings — to train new senators should not prevent it from drafting and introducing bills. Training new senators is a challenge each SGC body has faced in the past, yet it was still able to pass a number of bills during the fall semester.
The SGC has also said that it devoted its first six meetings to having administrators across campus speak to the Senate. While this is a positive measure in helping SGC members understand the inner workings of Ithaca College better, this, too, should not greatly hinder its ability to produce legislation.
Of course, there are still a number of weeks left in the semester for the SGC to introduce bills. However, it is unlikely that the number of bills it may pass in that time will approach the legislative activity of the previous two years. This lack of legislation is not necessarily because there are no issues to address either.
Following last year’s student-led protests, the SGC has the opportunity to draft bills that can address the college’s racial climate and microaggressions, and fight to make the campus inclusive of any groups or identities. Accessibility across campus also still continues to be a prevalent issue for students with disabilities. Engaging with the student community could also reveal more issues for the SGC to consider in drafting legislation.
As the governing body representing students at the college, legislation is the primary way the SGC can represent the concerns of the student body and improve the student experience. And following a tumultuous academic year, which shed light on topics that were important to students, the SGC must take the lead in introducing legislation that addresses some of these concerns. What now appears to be an unmotivated SGC must change. Moving forward, the SGC must not lose sight of its purpose of representing the student body.