SGA Senate introduces resolutions to address tokenism and lobbying

The SGA Senate passed Resolution 77. Collegian file photo.

SOPHIE CIOKAJLO | STAFF REPORTER | sciokajl@butler.edu

Two resolutions have been introduced in SGA this month to deal with a multitude of issues under the umbrella of communication between senators. 

First, Resolution 74 defined lobbying as “any unapproved communication with the express intent of influencing or counting votes” and required that consent be provided by any member of SGA before being contacted by any other member via private communication channels — anything outside of Slack or their Butler email. 

The resolution also encompassed prohibiting conversations of a persuasive nature on particular Senate action from occurring outside of Senate meetings. Second, the resolution attempted to combat tokenism by explicitly stating that senators are not allowed to target votes from specific senators based on their perceived identities. 

SGA members confirmed that Resolution 74 initially came about because multiple instances of inappropriate or unwanted communication between members of the Senate were reported over the course of the past school year. Investigations were conducted by SGA in each of these scenarios. 

Miki Kawahara, a junior health sciences major and SGA vice president-elect, said that senators were unsatisfied with the action being taken. 

“​Some senators were getting unwanted direct messages — emails, texts, phone calls, etc. — and did not feel comfortable with how the Senate was addressing the situation,” Kawahara told The Collegian via email. 

Resolution 74 was tabled, and never voted on, by a vote of 26. 

Resolution 77 was subsequently introduced. This legislation only states that senators are allowed to decline communication through private channels at any time and that senators cannot release the private contact information of fellow senators to other sources. However, 77 takes the same measures as 74 against tokenization of senators. 

Resolution 77 passed the Senate vote. 

Will Gigerich, a junior criminology major, is currently the speaker of the Senate and SGA president-elect. Gigerich says he frequently contacts his SGA colleagues via phone calls. 

“77 makes it so that when a senator receives a call from someone [in SGA] they can hit the decline button,” Gigerich said. “Technically they could do that before, but there was nothing about Senate communication written anywhere.”

While 77 passed the Senate with only two votes in opposition, Gigerich said many Senators who supported 74 were not happy. 

Paul Ford, a first-year entrepreneurship and innovation major, was a sponsor of Resolution 74 and said he was not satisfied with the changes made by 77.  

“In my own opinion Senate Resolution 77 takes the key points of Resolution 74 and it basically loosens it, it dilutes it,” Ford said. “It takes away a lot of what we were trying to do and does the bare minimum.”

Beyond holding issue with the contents of Resolution 77 in comparison to 74, Ford said that he felt “different influences” were at play causing 74 to not pass the Senate vote, specifically citing “personal relationships.”

Kawahara was a sponsor of Resolution 77 and said that many senators disliked 74 because it restricted their ability to quickly communicate. 

“​[77] was a good compromise that addressed the issues that were brought up before, but it did not restrict accessibility to communication, such as working with other senators and collaborating on ideas or resolutions,” Kawahara told The Collegian via email. 

As it stands now, SGA senators are free to contact one another how they choose, but senators can refuse communication at any time. Senators are also prevented, by written means, from contacting individuals regarding support for policy purely based on perceived identity and engaging in tokenism.

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