SGA closes senate to public
Student Government Association (SGA) senate voted unanimously to close its meeting Friday to speak privately about internal development. The meeting was closed to the public for about half an hour.
Myke Thompson, speaker of senate, decided to close the meeting.
“We needed to have a serious discussion to see where we are going now that we have a full senate. I wanted senators to have the chance to completely express what they had to say without the pressure of the executive council, Colleen [Wood, SGA adviser], or The Panther there,” Thompson said.
Article III, Section XI of SGA’s bylaws state that, “all senate meetings shall be open to the Chapman Community unless closed for a limited time by a three-fourths vote of the Senate. Internal matters and issues of sensitivity to individuals are the only reason for a closed meeting. One must be stated as a purpose for a closure and a meeting may not be closed for more than one hour. If a meeting is closed, discussion is confidential, but the result of any vote must be recorded and made public.”
Thompson said he made senators take a second look at their responsibilities, like attending office hours and working on projects.
“Topics brought up by other senators are up to them to share,” he said.
Thompson said in the three years he has been in student government, senate has voted to close their meetings three times. These closures were under Associated Students, the student government system that was in place prior to SGA’s establishment last year. SGA had never closed a senate meeting until Friday.
Thompson said he told SGA executive council, Wood and a few of the senators that he was thinking about closing the speaker’s report prior to Friday’s meeting.
“They were OK with it because I only closed the speaker’s report,” Thompson said. “It was still open for the committee reports, allocations requests and the censure of a senator.”
Brenton Burke, SGA vice president, said he never closed a meeting when he was speaker of senate last year.
“There was never a situation in which I deemed it necessary,” he said.
Burke said he couldn’t comment on the senators closing their Friday meeting since he doesn’t know why they closed it.
Chelsea Simmons, SGA director of elections, was also asked to leave the meeting so the senators could speak privately.
Simmons said she didn’t mind being asked to step out, especially if the senators felt more productive in a closed meeting.
“It’s totally fine. It’s part of their procedure. If that’s what they needed, than it was a good decision,” Simmons said.
Devon Hillard, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts representative, said they spoke about how each senator is adjusting to senate and the struggles they are facing in a public position. She said it was good to know that it is normal to be having some struggles.
Hillard said it was a good opportunity to speak to everyone since senate is finally full after holding two special elections this semester.
“Myke reiterated that [the closed meeting] was a safe space. He didn’t want us worried about what was being said and how it was being perceived,” Hillard said.
Thompson said he would’ve held a discussion like this one sooner if he were the speaker earlier on. He said when he was on Associated Students, they had an internal development meeting every Thursday.
“Each organization needs internal development. I want to give the senators that opportunity even if that is just during open forum,” Thompson said.