For second consecutive year, SG does not introduce legislation at second meeting

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Pharmacy representative Emily Allen, from left, talks with speaker Jakob Lucas, administrative director Connor Alexander, and advocacy director Nikita Telang. The SG meeting focused on solidifying a yearly budget and member appointments rather than introducing new legislation.

Photo Credit: Rachel Olvera | Daily Texan Staff

For the second consecutive year, Student Government has not introduced new legislation at its second assembly meeting.

SG introduced seven pieces of legislation in their first two meetings in 2016 and five pieces of legislation in 2017. During the past two years, SG has focused on member appointments and their budget, which they introduced at their first meeting of the year. 

Jakob Lucas, speaker of the assembly, said this is part of a new mindset SG has adopted to fuel more substantial changes instead of writing smaller legislation with intangible changes.

“Some of the most important aspects, activism and progress do not require a drop of ink or a single pencil in terms of legislation,” government senior Lucas said. “For example, legislation that says we support undocumented students is great, but it’s better if we can get undocumented students a scholarship. I don’t like empty words.” 

Instead of passing legislation, Lucas said members can meet with administrators to provide student feedback, and the executive board can create funding campaigns to better help students. He said this allows SG to respond to events as they affect the student body. 

“There will be some weeks where there will be three bills and some when there will be nothing,” Lucas said. “Just being the voice of the student body allows us to sit through appointments and attend meetings where, without us, there wouldn’t be a single student in the room.”

Lucas said he trusts administrators to respond to student feedback, and this can make meetings more effective than writing legislation.

“I can’t imagine a world in which students did not have an effect on administrators,” Lucas said. “It is an expectation and obligation that we can take for granted. I can assume we’ll be listened to, and I’m not unsure of it.”

Amie Jean, student body vice president, said a mix of representatives not knowing how to write legislation and members using other methods such as meeting with administrators both contribute to less legislation. 

“I don’t think students don’t have passion or concern; it’s more the know-how,” finance senior Jean said. “Legislation is Student Government’s way of moving things, but as for what conversations can do, what meetings can do, certain things can go beyond legislation.”

Advocacy director Nikita Telang said she is currently working on her own legislation.

“We have to research and compile legislation together, and people are just now getting into the swing of things,” psychology junior Telang said. “People have to learn how to write legislation, and once they’re confident, I’m sure we’ll see a ton of new things popping up. It just takes a few weeks.”

Nursing school representative Holly Ainsworth said students writing legislation face more obstacles at the beginning of the year.

“A lot of us are trying to get the ball rolling, and we’re still trying to see what the students’ interests are,” nursing junior Ainsworth said. “It’s kind of difficult in the beginning setting up meetings and everything else because of peoples’ schedules.” 

Lucas said less legislation means meetings can spend more time on open forum, in where students outside of SG can voice their opinions.

“Meetings are not where the work will get done,” Lucas said. “(Meetings will be) where the work gets started.”