It’s true: students do have a say at Sam Houston State University.
If there was a situation in which a student felt he or she had been wronged or if a student simply wanted to make a change at SHSU, all the student would need to do is research and create a bill to present to the Student Government Association.
There are three steps that a student or organization should take when trying to get a bill passed through the SGA: research the subject, create a bill and then present it either to one of the four Student Government committees or at the SGA Senate meetings.
“The first process in submitting legislation begins with the research,” said Student Body President, Christopher Yancy. “[A student or organization] would first want to make sure that the item that [they] are attempting to propose to the SGA has been thoroughly investigated.”
If students do not research their subject, then they should approach it in a proper manner that would allow the officers or senators to investigate the manner. If bills are not properly researched and investigated, they will most likely get tabled and sent back to the committee that presented them until they are researched properly.
The second step in getting a bill submitted to SGA would be to create the bill in a proper and professional manner.
“[Students] should come to the SGA office and try to connect with a senator or a respective officer that could give [them] some guidance on how to develop [their] legislation for the proper wording,” said Yancy.
For beginners and first-time bill writers, SGA offers a bill template for students or organizations to use in developing their legislation.
There are three different types of legislation: a proclamation or sense of the senate (which would be, for example, dedicating a day out of the year to a person or cause), senate bills and senate resolutions. The only legislation that escapes the veto power of the president of the university is proclamations or senses of the senate.
The final step would be to present the bill at a committee meeting or SGA Senate meeting. After developing the bill and connecting with a senator or officer, the person that helped the student develop the bill will ask him or her if they would like them to sponsor the bill, giving it more credibility.
“The bill has more credibility if [the student] has the external affairs or university affairs department backing [them], or a secretary or treasurer as a sponsor,” Yancy stated.
Presenting a bill first in a committee meeting will help win the committee’s support for the legislation before presenting it in a senate meeting, but a student can take the bill straight to the senate meeting. The four committees are university, internal, external and student affairs and a student should attend the committee meeting that is relevant to their bill. Speaking to an officer or senator will help a student decide in which committee to propose the bill.
First time visitors to SGA Senate meetings are recognized as observers and either a senator or officer has to yield the floor to an observer. While in a committee meeting, students can voice their opinion just like a member. Attending a committee meeting first will help the student find an officer or senator that will help them once attending the senate meeting.
“Usually, things within reason that benefit the student body and help us serve as a functional bridge between the students and the administration, more than likely have a high success rate of passing,” said Yancy.
If students have any complaints or grievances, they should go to the SGA office and file a formal complaint or talk to a senator or officer and find out how the SGA can help them with their situation.
Students can also get involved with what happens on campus by attending an SGA meeting on Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m. or attend two of the four committee meetings SGA holds. The Senate meetings are when the SGA comes together as a collective body, including committee chiefs, officers, students, senate, faculty and special guests.
A prime example of how students can become involved just by attending meetings is Yancy himself. He attended his first SGA meeting in spring of 2006 as an observer with an issue and worked with the treasurer to get his bill passed. Two years later, he became president of the very legislative body that first helped him.
Yancy said that the impact students have on the SHSU campus is very significant and all that is needed is the desire to make a difference and confidence that what they say really does matter.
“We are listening,” Yancy said. “And we are more than willing to help students with an issue.”