SGA adopts ethics code

Student Government Association officers will soon face new penalties for failing to comply with the SGA Code of Laws or fulfill their job responsibilities under the guidelines of a new ethics code the SGA Senate unanimously approved Thursday. SGA President Stephen Swinson will likely sign the bill into effect today, according to SGA spokeswoman Dorothy Griffith.

“The ethics code is a great addition to our governing documents,” Swinson said in a statement. “It creates increased accountability and will improve how the SGA serves students.“

The bill outlines a process for addressing violations of SGA governing documents, Griffith said.

The new ethics code would allow senators who miss four Senate meetings without providing an excuse or sending a proxy to be removed from office, subject to an appeal to the Senate Ethics Committee and the Senate leadership. The bill would also allow the SGA president to suspend the pay of executive branch members who neglect their job responsibilities. Finally, the bill codifies the SGA’s nondiscrimination policy and requires all meetings where SGA business is conducted to be open to the public.

“Creating an ethics code was a goal of our office since last spring,” Attorney General David Simpson said. “I’m excited to see it come to fruition.”

Senator Lauren Hardison, who chairs the ethics committee and authored the bill, said the ethics code was the result of an effort by all three SGA branches and she is excited to witness its implications moving forward.

“Of all of the projects that I have been a part of during my time here at UA, this bill is the one I’m most proud of,” Hardison said.

Her colleagues agreed.

“I feel like it’s a great way to hold senators accountable to their constituents and will lay a great foundation for future Senate classes to come,” Senator Andy Koonce said.

Senate spokesman Austin Gaddis said the vote underscored Senate’s commitment to ethics in the SGA.

“Through passing this unprecedented legislation, the Senate has made a bold and lasting commitment to uphold the high standards of the SGA,” Gaddis said.

In other business, the Senate approved $30,903.27 in Financial Affairs Committee allocations that will provide 23 student organizations with money for supplies or travel expenses. The Crew Club received the highest allocation, with $2,600, followed by UA Crossfit, which received $2,000.

Joe Mahoney, an associate justice on the SGA Judicial Board, introduced legislation that would allow any student to file a petition with the judicial board to challenge the constitutionality of SGA legislation and executive orders.

Senate also passed resolutions honoring the lives of former UA professor James Cashman and former federal judge Thomas Virgil Pittman, a UA graduate.