SGA violates OMA, promises better fall semester

Room+405+of+the+Holmes+Student+Center+in+the+Holmes+Tower.+The+SGAs+past+Public+Affairs+meetings+have+been+canelled+or+moved+online.+%28Rachel+Cormier+%7C+Northern+Star%29

Rachel Cormier

Room 405 of the Holmes Student Center in the Holmes Tower. The SGA’s past Public Affairs meetings have been canelled or moved online. (Rachel Cormier | Northern Star)

By Rachel Cormier and Bridgette Fox

DeKALB – The Student Government Association has continuously failed to upload minutes and agendas for every SGA meeting online to Huskie Hub, violating the Open Meetings Act.

The Northern Star became aware of this on April 11 and April 18 when attempting to attend an SGA Public Affairs Committee meeting in the Holmes Student Center, Room 405, and found the room empty after it was moved online without an announcement to Huskie Hub.

As a public body, the SGA is required to notify the community 48 hours prior to a change in meeting place or cancellation. A recent bill was also passed by the SGA to require executive branch members to complete OMA certification training during their terms.

A conversation with Dallas Douglass, former speaker of the senate, led to understanding how some violations occurred from a lack of communication and technical issues.

The agendas and minutes for committee meetings were not publicly accessible via Huskie Hub due to technical issues with the site that the SGA was unaware of, according to Douglass.

“We did not have a set function for the Huskie link or the Huskie Hub events calendar,” Douglass said. “So there’s no expectation for committee chairs to post their minutes or agendas or schedules there or times, locations, anything like that.”

Douglass discussed how a lack of interest and notice was the reason for the empty Public Affairs committee meeting on April 11.

“This is the first time anybody has expressed interest in attending a committee meeting as a member of the public,” Douglass said. “So we were not aware there were technical issues.”

Scot Schraufnagel, professor and chair of the department of political science, gave some background on the significance of the OMA.

“There was a lot of smoke-filled rooms, people working behind the scenes and just making public policy without any public input,” Schraufnagel said. “And so the abuse of that eventually catches up, and people begin passing open meetings acts.”

Douglass said the SGA would begin to publish full recordings of their meetings as well as minutes. Douglass has also begun incorporating OMA information specific to the SGA in training materials for the next speaker.

SGA will have its next Senate meeting at 2 p.m. Friday at the Holmes Student Center.