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SGA aims to pass off-campus senator legislation

Written by on February 28, 2023

NORMAL, Ill. – Proper representation is key to creating and maintaining the democratic process.

This is what the Student Government Association (SGA) is attempting to achieve through passing the Student Transitioning from On-Campus to Off-Campus Housing amendment. The amendment aims to alter the SGA constitution to allow Illinois State University students who plan on living off-campus in the upcoming semester, to be able to vote on who will represent them as their off-campus senator in the future.

As it currently stands a student who lives in a residence hall on-campus, but plans on living in an off-campus apartment in the upcoming year, cannot vote for their off-campus senator representing them in their new apartment. This discrepancy can leave students without the ability to voice their opinions on issues which matter most to them.

President for the Assembly of SGA and Off-Campus Senator, Braxton Myers, happens to be living in an off-campus apartment for the first time in his collegiate career. Myers voiced his opinions on how he understands the importance of off-campus representation.

“We can alleviate a lot of the stresses college students feel,” said Myers. “I know that when I got into my apartment this summer I felt like I was going crazy because this is the first time I’m out on my own. I have my own room to myself, but at the same time I don’t have access to an RA, I don’t have access to support staff downstairs from me… and a lot of these situations off-campus senators uniquely deal with.”

Myers elaborated on how this disparity in representation for off-campus students isn’t truly reflective of senator representation.

“Statistically just under seventy percent of the people that live here and go here at ISU live off-campus,” said Myers. “Of course that number is growing and growing as we have higher admission rates. So with that it’s even more integral that student government is electing people in a more equitable and representative fashion.”

To pass this amendment, ten percent of the student body at ISU is needed to sign this amendment into the constitution which equates to 2,063 signatures. For Myers and SGA, through their efforts to gain student signatures a commonality emerged where many students were unaware they even had off-campus representation.

“In getting signatures for this amendment, not many people knew they had an off-campus senator,” said Myers. “A lot of people didn’t even know there’s people here and resources here to help them. And I hope this amendment sheds a light onto that.”

This disconnect between students and their campus is what Myers hopes to bridge by passing the amendment.

“After COVID, one of the things that hasn’t been brought up is the disconnection a lot of off-campus students feel to their ISU community,” stated Myers. “I heard from one off-campus student that said the only connection they feel to ISU is when they walk on the quad. I don’t think that’s good… I hope that this can get a lot more off-campus students involved in voting.”

Aside from educating off-campus students on what this proposed amendment puts into effect, another hurdle faced by SGA throughout the process is why students should care about their off-campus senator. Myers touched on a few issues SGA has been focused on to improve the lives of the student body.

“Off-campus senators mainly deal with issues off campus,” stated Myers. “For example, this year we’ve been advocating for a 24-hour notice, so that students who are living in an apartment aren’t being walked in on for a showing by their leasing agent without being given proper notice… This is something we’ve been told about by the student body in droves and it’s what your off-campus senator can help fix.”

At the moment, the amendment still requires approximately 1,200 signatures by Wednesday in order to be ratified into the constitution.