Burning Down the House

Photo by Kiyah Crittendon

Editor’s Note: The edited version of this article previously stated that “representatives and the Speaker did not have enough knowledge of their own procedures to know that the President and Vice President were allowed to speak.” This is incorrect and the consensus has been amended in this updated version.

A recent meeting of SGA’s Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) was brought to a head when Speaker of the House Darryl Terry, II ordered the removal of the Undergraduate SGA President and Vice President from the room. This event was precipitated by a growing schism between the executive branch of SGA and the Speaker, who is technically a member of the executive cabinet.

The removal came as Evan Gillon and Ayodeji Aladesanmi, SGA President and Vice President, respectively, sought to comment on a matter being discussed during UHR. Although the executive duo traditionally do not speak during UHR, this occasion called for them to make their voices heard. Although the executive duo are traditionally permitted to speak before the House, Terry was within his rights to deny them time on the floor. The fact that several representatives attempted to yield their time to Gillon and Aladesanmi, however, makes the situation a bit more peculiar.

In an actual legislative body, comprised entirely of members with a strong knowledge of the laws, this would be understandable. In a student government meeting, where the President and Vice President have a much more thorough understanding of the bylaws than many of the students making up the House, denying them the right to speak borders on irresponsible.

Furthermore, this sort of drama has no place in a gathering of student leaders and undergraduate representatives. If the rift between the Speaker and the executive branch interferes with the internal operation of SGA, it is working to the detriment of the student body. Students come to UHR to either advocate for their organization or carry out their duties as a representative. At the end of the day, these are all Tech students that have made a commitment to campus and their respective organizations. Playing political games simply wastes everyone’s time.

Effective internal communication is crucial for the success of SGA. If individual parties decide to act of their own accord and at the expense of their peers, their actions are tantamount to shirking their obligation to the student body.

A separation between the Speaker and the executive branch is not inherently bad. The obstinate manner in which Terry is approaching the matter, however, directly interferes with the smooth operation of UHR. If Terry had not eschewed the traditional practice of sitting in on executive cabinet meetings, Gillon and Aladesanmi may not have even felt the need to speak on the House floor. A Speaker serves a conduit of information from the executive branch to UHR. If he refuses to act in this capacity, he should at least let them speak.