The Student Governance Council has always passed bills as its primary form of legislation to possibly enact change at Ithaca College.
The content of these bills is admirable — providing international students with summer housing on campus and making a gesture to put free menstrual products in bathrooms across campus — but given the nature of how they are enacted and what kind of power the SGC can wield with them, it’s time to consider the semantics and call them what they are.
Generally, bills are put forward by legislative bodies to enact laws. Resolutions, in contrast, are used to make suggestions or recommendations to the larger and more powerful legislative body — in this case, the college administration.
The SGC’s calling its proposals “bills” implies that the organization has more legislative power at the college than it actually does. It also insinuates that the bill would lead to major changes if passed, even though the changes that are proposed call for recommended changes to current policies rather than complete policy overhauls altogether.
The SGC’s role in the college’s current shared governance structure is such that any legislation passed by the SGC must also be filtered by the administration. This is where the SGC’s proposals come across more as resolutions than as bills.
The name of the SGC’s legislation should be changed to appropriately reflect the true nature of the proposals as well as the SGC’s own power within the college community. What may seem like a miniscule and inconsequential change would actually be beneficial in helping the campus better understand what the SGC’s role is. Right now, calling its legislation “bills” produces a high expectation of the SGC to enact sweeping changes to the college that the SGC simply does not have the power to do. Renaming these “bills” to resolutions would establish the idea that legislation is meant to be a recommendation to the college.
This is not to say that the bills the SGC has already passed are weak; on the contrary, many of them are strong bills that address issues impacting the most vulnerable groups on campus. The issue is simply in the name and in the misconception that the SGC wields an exorbitant amount of power when it is still subject to the checks and balances of the college administration. The SGC should consider adjusting its language to reflect the nature of its legislation.