New legislation at Wednesday’s Student Government meeting to address commencement changes

Jarvis Steele currently serves as the Student Government Association president of all three Georgia Southern University campuses. Steele has not responded to four different emails from The George-Anne asking about SGA’s involvement in the commencement change decision. 

Matthew Enfinger

The Student Government Association plans to directly address commencement ceremony concerns with new legislation passed by members from the Armstrong campus SGA.

Spencer Demink, Armstong/Liberty executive vice president said members of the Armstrong campus SGA will present the new legislation at the Statesboro campus meeting in the Russell Union Ballroom at 6:30 p.m.

“We will basically come together as one SGA to agree that the commencement changes are not what the students want,” DeMink said.

DeMink said the legislation will address all commencement ceremony concerns, particularly the safety of having graduation on two separate campuses.

“It’s just hard to imagine three [thousand], 4,000 people driving from Savannah to Statesboro on I-16 together all on one day and that being safe,” DeMink said.

While DeMink said communications has been constant between the two campuses, it is currently unclear the level of involvement the Statesboro campus played in the development of the legislation. SGA President Jarvis Steele was asked via email about the upcoming meeting but has not responded.

Armstrong SGA approached about the decision

Commencement changes were decided after a committee solicited input from students, faculty and the deans before making a recommendation to the President’s Cabinet, according to GS’ Spring 2019 Commencement FAQ page.

DeMink said student input wasn’t really given on the location changes of the commencement ceremony.

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DeMink said he was told that student input was given over the summer but it was not brought to his attention if there were listening sessions on the Armstrong campus.

In a recent article by The George-Anne, Senator-at-Large Keyshawn Housey said the commencement change was never brought to SGA senators.

“It was my understanding that this was a cost effective measure undertaken by the administration,” Housey said. “Unfortunately this was never brought to me or any of the senators.”

Hours later after agreeing to be quoted, Housey asked that his comment not be used due to the fact that he was asked not to speak on the matter as a senator.

It is still unclear the role the Statesboro campus SGA played in the commencement ceremony changes.

Steele has not responded to emails by The George-Anne for clarification on SGA’s knowledge of and involvement in the commencement ceremony changes.

Steele has also not responded to The George-Anne’s email asking why Housey could not speak on the matter as a senator.

Along with DeMink, the Armstrong campus SGA’s Vice President of Academic Affairs Mary-Kate Moore and Senate Speaker Kyle Tyack will be in attendance.

“These senate meetings today actually mean something,” DeMink said. “We have university administration at both of them who are on the committee and who do have the ability to change things. The petition helped. The comments helped, but these meetings should be the final nail in the coffin to get things done and to make actual change. Even if it somehow doesn’t they know that they can’t drop things like this on us without actual student input.”

Matthew Enfinger, The George-Anne Editor-in-Chief, [email protected]