SGA constitution amendments bring representation to the forefront

Jessica Schneider, Freelance Writer

On March 23, 2022, Viterbo students received an email from Kirsten Gabriel, Interim Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, asking them to vote on changes to the Student Government Association constitution regarding inclusivity and representation. Along with President Trietley’s approval, Viterbo’s Student Government needed a two-thirds majority with a minimum of five percent of undergraduates voting for the changes to be ratified.  

On March 28, students received another email from Vice President Gabriel informing them that necessary requirements have been met (“84.3% approving and 15.6% disapproving with 168 students voting”), and that the changes had been implemented.  

Madelyn Ballard, SGA Secretary, explained to the Lumen that SGA originally sought out to make the constitution’s language more inclusive. “There were lots of areas that used ‘he/she’ that we changed to ‘they’ when referring to members,” she explained. With the adoption of pronoun inclusivity across campus in the past couple years—showing pronouns in emails, on name tags, and in classes—it’s not surprising that this amendment to the constitution was made. 

What SGA wants is for every student to feel like they have a place and a voice on campus. Ballard explained that in the process of revising the amendment’s language, they ended up changing the titles of existing executive positions and adding new positions, such as a Vice President of Residential Affairs, and a Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Additionally, representatives from each college will be referred to as “Senators.” These new positions show SGA’s focus moving forward. If they utilize their new human resources, we can expect to see more attention directed toward residential life and diversity, equity and inclusion across campus.  

Ballard was especially excited about the opportunity to have senators from each college, saying, “We think that it will be beneficial to hear from a more diverse group of students so we can be advocating for what the student body as a whole will benefit from.” SGA’s installation of a senatorial-based system is promising, as it shows Viterbo students that the organization is trying to cater to the needs of students across all majors.  

It’s been several weeks since Vice President Gabriel’s emails went out, and the responses have been positive. Ballard explained, “We were hoping that students would be excited about these new positions and students that haven’t been involved in SGA in the past would be motivated to run.” She went on to say that this was successful, as they have seven new members being inducted next year. As Ballard said, “Our current group is very proud of the changes we have made and are excited to see how it helps our organization to grow.”