Diversity of Ideologies in SGA?The Student Government Association is the voice of the Sam Houston State University student body. According to President Angie Cartwright of SGA, all students are considered members of SGA simply by being enrolled. Although this may be true, if you wish to have a strong voice in the dealings of the university, it is essential for you to attend the meetings every Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. in LSC 304.Although I have attended Sam for the past two years, this is the first semester I have been able to attend Tuesday night meetings. This is also the first year I have been eligible for a senate position since I am a criminal justice major. I was truly looking forward to finally being able to attend SGA meetings. I feel Student Government is one of the best organizations on campus for students who feel adamant about working towards the advancement of this university.After attending the first two SGA meetings of the semester, I am undecided as to whether or not I would be comfortable and/or able to benefit not only the organization but the school in general. I pictured SGA as a university government entity run in an orderly, parliamentary style manner where everyone is free to speak his or her mind when the time came. After all, SGA is the voice of all students; and as such, all students (no matter how much anyone disagrees with them) should have the right to speak their mind without fear of verbal interruption or assault. Since I have been involved in parliamentary style meetings before, I was confused when a certain student called a “point of order” and the president struck back by stating, “a point of order is not a right but a privilege.” After the meeting (being the nerd I am), I stayed so I could read “Rule 9” which deals with the Rules and Procedures of the Sam Houston State University Student Government Association handbook. The following comes from this handbook:
Rule 9. Privilege PointsA. When Order1. Points of Order a. Points of Order must be heard at all times except during the act of voting, when they must relate to voting procedure b. The must relate to such matters as: 1. Any breach of the Constitution, Standing Rules, other applicable parliamentary authority, or superior law
Instead of allowing the individual to speak, everyone was handed a copy of the part of theSGA Constitution pertaining to the “point of order.” Therefore, she must have known, even before the meeting, that someone was going to discuss a “breach in the Constitution”. Even if she doesn’t agree that a breach had occurred, I still feel proper procedure should have been followed and proper restraint and respect should have been displayed by the presiding officer.The key to every respectable entity is freedom of speech. Without this, why have meetings, discussions, debates or votes? Everyone has the right to say how they feel even if everyone else in the room hates them for it. They have the right to be heard by all without interruption. Even though one may not agree with anything the other is saying, when it is “open forum” and that person has been officially recognized and has the floor, nobody should be allowed to interrupt or verbally attack him or her. That is completely disrespectful and uncouth in my opinion. When I saw an individual at the meeting get struck down by the President herself and interrupted every five seconds, I was appalled. I may not understand everything that lead up to this or what has been going on “behind the scenes”, but I do know that I was barely able to even hear his point.I am now unsure I will ever be comfortable stating my opinion for fear of being verbally attacked before I am even able to fully disclose what I wish to say without interruption. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but I would like to know that when I speak, I will be heard and respected. A famous quote by Voltaire reads, “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” Diversity is the greatest piece of America. No matter how radical, illogical or hated you are, you still have the right to speak your mind even if others disagree with you.On a friendlier note, I do like the energy at the meetings. It seems as if all involved care adamantly about both SGA and the university. Emotion has a place in an organization but control is more important at times. Procedures are developed for a reason and must be adhered to. One cannot argue one minute that procedure should be followed and disregard it the following minute. When it comes to free speech, everyone has a right to express his or her viewpoints without fear of slaughter while they have control of the floor. Sure, respectfully refute what they say if you disagree with them when they have had time to say their peace. Just don’t start raising your voice and telling them they are wrong in the middle of their speech. I thought diversity was what this school is looking for? If people do not feel comfortable expressing their true feelings, many new ideas will fall through the cracks. After all, I feel true unity comes from diversity.
By: NicoleMy formatting was messed up by sending it in this format. Is there any other way to send the article?