By Cassy Sottile and Erica Quinones
The Student Government Association (SGA) officially amended legislation regarding class officers at the Feb. 25 Senate meeting.
The amendment was initially submitted by Parliamentarian and sophomore Kat DeSantis and Constitutional Review Committee member freshman Maegan White at the Feb. 18 SGA Senate meeting, and added language to sub-section three to section one of the SGA by-laws, which addresses class officers.
Through this amendment, they added three sections officially defining the roles of class officers as well as expanding on the Parliamentarian’s job in transitioning newly elected officers into their positions, and enabling officers to easily fund activities for their class.
“By-laws in the constitution outline the election process for class officers and they outline the impeachment process for class officers, but they do not actually outline what their responsibilities are,” SGA Parliamentarian Kat DeSantis said.
Additions to sub-section 3 separate the defined abilities into three sections: A, B, and C.
Sub-section A dictates “Transition” and states that “the Parliamentarian will facilitate a class officer transition meeting to ensure the new class officers are aware of their responsibilities” as outlined in the by-law.
DeSantis tested this idea last semester when working with the newly elected class of 2023 officers, helping them run a karaoke event at which some 60 participants attended.
Class of 2023 President Alexandra Solano Guante said that without the meetings, “we class officers would not know what to do in regards of setting up events of being representatives for the class.”
“That was basically my trial run,” DeSantis said. “We did the trial run, we have seen this work successfully, let us enact this for future groups.”
Sub-section B, then, focuses solely on the abilities of class officers, dictating that “each Class Officer team will automatically be given a budget of $0 in each semesterly budget cycle that they do not submit their own budget.”
This section was the only one contested due to its original wording, according to DeSantis.
The goal of sub-section B is to allow class officers to host events and connect with the student population, despite them being elected after the semester budget submission phase.
By delegating each team a budget of $0, class officers can request discretionary funds for programming throughout the semester.
“It incentivizes officers to be more active on campus, so even if they miss the budget deadline for whatever reason, they are still able to carry out activities,” Class of 2022 President Mason Drummey said.
If they plan ahead, class officers can also submit a budget to the SGA Financial Controller with club executive boards; however, the new by-law makes it possible to spontaneously host events.
When submitting for a budget or discretionary funds, class officers are held to the same standards as clubs.
“The automatic budget allows us to have a more realistic idea to come up with events,” Solano Guante said. “As a class officer, you want to do so much for the class but some of these ideas end up costing way too much.”
Sub-section C is both the last addition and the longest of the new amendment. Defining the responsibilities of class officers, sub-section C consists of three points.
According to the amendment, class officers will sit on designated SGA committees, and have official individual, as well as shared, responsibility.
The legislation dictates individual responsibilities for class officers to take both in Senate meetings and outside.
Class presidents are responsible for filling vacancies in the class executive board through review board-approved appointments, reporting the status of their class and being a spokesperson as necessary, as well as sitting on both a “committee of their choice and the Presidents’ Committee when the SGA President calls upon them.”
The vice presidents will census the number of students in their respective class while making a conscious effort to listen to each student, fulfill the duties of class president should the presidential office be vacated, as well as sit on the Organizations Committee.
Treasurers represent their class when making discretionary requests, handle all class funds, and will sit on the Budget Committee.
Class secretaries serve as the communications liaison between their respective class and the Washington College community, take minutes at class officer executive meetings, run the class’ social media, and will sit on a committee of their choice.
“When I became class officer,” Drummey said. “The only guidelines that were given to us were to be a senator and speak for your class. Frankly, I think having structure will allow me and the other class officers to actually hold events which contribute to the campus community.”
Their responsibilities continue as a team, with legislation saying that each class officer executive group should plan at least one event per semester with one such event having a service component.
Teams will host an “open house once a semester where students can voice their concerns and issues to their respective class officers,” according to the legislation.
Officers should then report said concerns to the appropriate SGA executive member, faculty or staff member, or the President of the College.
Additionally, they are expected to be the liaisons of class information and service “in the best interest of their class.”
“Having at least one event per semester and having the open house are the two new, main important things to me, because it is about giving them responsibility, giving them guidelines, giving them something meaningful about their jobs,” DeSantis said.
While the amendment was passed, there is a question of enforcement.
The legislation is a guideline that officers should follow, according to DeSantis, but it is the class which holds them accountable through the impeachment process.
“[These guidelines] set an expectation for myself and other officers and future class officers, meaning it is not just a resume builder,” Drummey said. “It is something that actually means something and will actually affect the campus.”